The Wall . . . (a tonal drawing written in poetic form)

The *Wall
(of Kano, Nigeria) 

the ground is trembling
no one knows
when a step will be taken
until the memory
no visions are dared
eyes have no motion
asking no things
legs dart here and there
on feet abandoned
the day is a ritual
starting at sunrise
never the night before
thoughts of tomorrow is tabooooo
“I have little that I want
I want nothing I don’t have”
houses have no windows
thick mud clay walls
dole out each breath
too little for dreaming
worth lives in the markets
patches landscape the people and things
and the ways of doing them
in layers lives are caked
“I cannot see
I will not see
I don’t have to see”
the sacred is profaned
the steps proclaimed
counted over and over
between dark bony fingers
as fat men
“who don’t need to see”
blow dust and debris
in the eyes and wills of gym people
with the holy words they have writ
in a field
sets a seat of higher learning
squat several boys moving their bowels
queaks a machine making bricks
stands a fire truck out of gas
where beginning is never beginning
and always never ending
in this land
with no language but many tongues
no voice but many songs

*Historically, many towns in northern Nigeria were enclosed by walls for defensive purposes.

Copyright © 1990 Asili Ya Nadhiri

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