Six times have I married and same been widowed.
I was sixteen when whisked away to the Savanna,
I was promised Eden, feasting on the Tuba.
On the threshing floor, my first I bore
After lousy cuddles and countless losses
Before the father was lost to the remnants of war.
So I moved from western Savanna to the Sahel
And whored myself for shelter to become a third.
His barns grew and in that plenty my second was born
And not long after, he died on top of his fourth.
Coming across the Montana belt to the confluence
I betrothed myself to another, not knowing my blood;
But the day the midwife helped me deliver,
The gods drowned him in the Niger.
Moving with the gait of variegated fecundity
I settled in the hilly east, accepting to be wooed;
It was a cold night when I conceived, but a hot one
When he was butchered for slaying another once.
Drinking fresh water of the western fringe, I spent the nights
Serving my fifth, who would beat and beg
Until one day after I’ve proved his manhood to his folks,
I let him drink his life away from a tainted gourd.
Fleeing to the creeks of the mangrove swamp,
I entered into my sixth, and beneath the moonlit sky
Midwifed my sixth, while the father fell victim
To the raging rout of the blaring blaze.
My identity I’ve lost, to times and reliefs;
My faith shaped by echoes from Holy Lands:
Palestine, Mecca, India, Elis, even Anansa*.
I beseech you, Old Sage, guide my offspring,
For I must depart, even though at fifty
My being still throbs with consuming desire.
Let not the noises you hear upset your hopes;
From the strength of your loins have emerged
A bonded mosaic of six great offspring,
Each from a region with graces bestowed.
In guided, conscious steps, would they build
A new world together, not minding their roots.
You must live for them as they for you
Or have you not heard the saying, my child:
“If upon a clime you set a foot,
Not finding a Nigerian there, flee
For such supports no human life”?
You’re truly a Mother-at-Work.
*Anansa is the water goddess of the Efik of southern Cross River State, Nigeria, who lives in the River Cross.