Poetry: Nigerian Pastoral by Inua Ellams

Nigerian Pastoral
by Inua Ellams
After Gregory Djanikian.

If Adamu were leaning against a wall
mouth flush with fresh coconut
when trucks screeched to a halt

and Adewunmi were writing her name
in sand, dragging the small stick
when the magazine clicked

and Afoaka were hushing her twins
waving the straw fan back and forth
when the first shots rang out

if Aliyu barefoot by the oranges
were squeezing each fruit for ripeness
when the bullet shattered his cheek

if Akarachi refusing to run
were praying in his room
when the rocket struck the roof

and Azuba in her new hand-stitched hijab
were tucking away stray wisps
when the blast ate her skin

How long would it have to go on then
beginning with A and spilling over
into all the alphabets

before mother sister father child
could bear the same weight
in any faith, in any race,

be mourned with the same tongue.

via Okayafrica
Listen to my reading of "Nigerian Pastoral" below:


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