CONSTANT CRY

He lived with us very briefly
When I was still a child
My father’s elder brother

When we prayed before our meals
And made the sign of the cross
He teased us, Protestants, about having gone Catholic

When he shaved in the morning
He explained to us the mysterious science
Of shaving stick, cream and blade

Other than that he didn’t talk much
A quiet quiet quiet man
Hurt no-one, thoughtfully kept to himself

Very different from the others
Never preached, never argued, never moralised
Never scolded, just silently observed

Three decades have passed
Rarely our paths ever crossed again
A short Hello each time, nothing more

I’m still trying to understand
The pain I’ve felt all morning today
Since I heard of Uncle Joe’s death

It doesn’t make sense
Someone I hardly knew
Just a few childhood memories

Just a few memories
That remind me of a time
Rich in memories and childlike insight

And a few memories
Of a quiet adult who never found a voice
In a culture of big egos, loud voices and aggression

His silence was louder, calmer, more lasting
So deep that only his death
Would open the deep wound of memory in my heart

His middle name was Ahamefula
Meaning “May my name not get lost” –
No, dear Uncle, it will not.

In loving memory of
Joseph Ahamefula Chukwumerije
1935 – 2013

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

REFLECTIONS ON TRANSITION

Mirror 1

The earth is the mother
And the physical body the womb
In which the soul incubates and grows
Before birth into the beyond.

Each time we on earth are born
We have but been sunk
As a seed into a surrogate mother’s womb
To grow there a little strong.

Death is but the midwife
Dying the throes of labour and pain
Someone misses you each time you are born
Something receives you back at death again.

And all the things you did on earth
Shall be as a dream in the womb
So heed your spirit even while in the flesh
For it alone remembers its home.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

EYES ON THE BALL

Up the road a few trees beckon
A moment of shade on a hot sunny day
If I stop and seek here refuge
I’ll miss my appointment at the end of my way
For my path is not my goal.

No thing of beauty will hold me down
No period of quiet will slow me down
No place of peace will hold me back
No woman, no wine, no work, no glory will change my story
For the path is not the goal, no matter what they say.

– che chidi chukwumerije.

MEMORY OF A HIDDEN TREASURE

I know I’ll never have it
It will never be my lot

I know I’ll always want it
It will always be my thought

I know I’ll forever have it
It will forever be all I’ve got

If I seek hard and seek right and seek long for it
It will elude me not, my seeking won’t come to nought

But if I die before I find it
Please, somebody, seek what I sought
And, when you find it, tell it
About me who sought for it
And found it not.

————–
che chidi chukwumerije
————–

LOST PLANES

Like the lost letter
I sent to you – the postman never said
It never arrived
And I’m still waiting
For your unsuspecting reply
And yet it is you who are waiting
For me on the other side.

How can coplanar souls lose sight of each other?
Their calls echo leeward and die unheard.
How can planes fly into the wind and disappear
And leave gaping wounds behind
Lost at sea?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.