JOURNEY INTO SONGS by Gbenga Adesina (Nigeria)

JOURNEY INTO SONGS by Gbenga Adesina (Nigeria)


(On the Benin road)

The leaves are an imagination of green:

Self-preening Limbas, doting, motherly Guava trees unfurling their

arms on this road. The oaks and mahoganies loop like

map lines that lead to love.

And you, being you, find yourself in a state of desire

You want to touch and be touched. To fold yourself into a song, into a ballad

and give of it to this air. To re-listen to these places with new eyes, you

yielding to the road, the road yielding to you. Hugh Masekela cooing beside you;

the sheer thrush of self-surrender.


But really, I’m thinking these greens, these twigs are opening sentences

I’m thinking, really, that roads are people and people are roads and

when we take them, navigate them, what we come into is a soft surprise

of songs. Some bright watermarks, some dark or maroon like love or loss

like these trees and their cheerful leaves beneath which there is a dying and a sighing

and a loving, like the red wound in Hugh’s voice as he twirls and twirls me into his space,

my hands trembling on the gear.

I press down on the pedal. Our car is a purr scissoring through the night.


We are now at a junction where a slim, red-brown road on the left

slithers down the green into something we do not know

If I turn this wheel, careen down the road into its dusty insistence

Will I see her

My mother: a little Benin girl again making dreams in sand

or her father, Abulema, bare chested sculptor, his fingers

quick to love as to wood, nursing a bronze slap into a god

a waiting in his eyes, under this April sky relentlessly preaching

the gospel of rain.

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