Abiku by Wole Soyinka

In vain your bangles cast 

Charmed circles at my feet; 

I am Abiku, calling for the first 

And the repeated time. 

  

Must I weep for goats and cowries 

For palm oil and the sprinkled ash? 

Yams do not sprout in amulets 

To earth Abiku’s limbs. 

  

So when the snail is burnt in his shell

Whet the heated fragments, brand me

Deeply on the breast. You must know him

When Abiku calls again.



I am the squirrel teeth, cracked

The riddle of the palm. Remember

This, and dig me deeper still into

The god’s swollen foot.



Once and the repeated time, ageless

Though I puke. And when you pour

Libations, each finger points me near

The way I came, where



The ground is wet with mourning

White dew suckles flesh-birds

Evening befriends the spider, trapping

Flies in wind-froth;



Night, and Abiku sucks the oil

From lamps. Mother! I’ll be the

Supplicant snake coiled on the doorstep

Yours the killing cry.



The ripes fruit was saddest;

Where I crept, the warmth was cloying.

In the silence of webs, Abiku moans, shaping

Mounds from the yolk.

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