Our mothers engorged breasts, painful and full of milk?
Who will nurse at our mother’s engorged breasts to relieve her of the chills of fever from children Murdered?
What drains there of, of our mother’s bosom?
Poison it is, pain it is, sorrow it is, milk it is not.
Our mother stood regal and for the world her breasts displayed,
Coverlet of dignity? Shame her cloak.
She killed her babies from the sourness of her arrogance filled wells. Of diamond and of Petroleum, of cocoa and of palm oil, palm kernel, ivory and ebony,
And her children enslaved at home and abroad. The treasures of her chest run to ruin.
The primal of womanhood, for country and for honor?
Iya is gold! Iya is anguish!
She swings her ripe taunting and the poison thereof,
Sprayed her children from the Delta rich in poverty to the Deserts very poor in hope.
We will milk our mother’s full harvest the children wailed
We will milk them and feed on them and they will be beauty.
And our mothers name? We will relieve her chilled, engorged and painful breasts and she must not char us.
I am from the Ibibio group and I will hold your hand my brother from the Kembi group and we will cross over to nurse together to help our mothers fevered peaks of glory, and she has to give joy.
My brother Birun, my brother Hiji, and you my brother Kentu, we hold the world up with the pride between our thighs, forget not.
My sister is Ibo and she bleeds red blood from her warm springs of fertility. I too bleed red blood from my warm spring of fertility.
Laughter of children comes through her passage and my passage.
I will hold my sister’s hand, that my sister Hausa, and my sister Gwari and my sister Yako, with my sister Bolewa, and together we will cross over to our mother’s fury from the pain of her sorely taut expectations.
We will feed at her promises only,
Poison we will refuse. Milk we will suckle.
Giggle of Kanuri, of Egede, and of Yoruba princesses,
Prowess of the Edo, of the Arago, and of the Kare-Kare princes,
We will demand milk from our mother’s store of solace.
Mother there is a heart behind the left breast we will entreat her,
A heart full of blood and the forces of life.
The right breast is for nurture; it is not decay or desecration.
I will call to my brothers and sisters. Do you know my sisters and brothers? I will tell you my sisters and brothers names. Do you know my sister and brothers Adarawa? Manga? Kanuri? Bede? Fulani? Dakakari? Dukawa? Jaba? Seyawa? Margi? Kamuku? Bakakari? Gbari? Kadara? Koro? Fali? Angas? Busa? Kaje? Mada? Nupe? Bubu? Dimmuk? Arago? Basa? Shuwa Arab? Batta? Mumuye? Junkun? Chamba? Mambilla? Tiv? Igala? Idoma? Iyala? Yako? Ekoi? Boki? Ijaw? Itsekiri? Urhobo? Edo? Igbira?
Do you know us? Does our mother know our names? The delirium from her engorged painful annihilation erased the memories of our names. We will go to her and mine milk form her springs.
They are beautiful, our mothers breasts. The pride of a nation.
Evil within sealed our mothers delight, fear within her aching breasts.
In the pretenses of her children is the envy, in the guise of those my brothers and sisters
With names earned from the depth of wrenching history,
The brothers and sisters whose names I know.
Mother gave birth to us in writhing terror, and we
Her children refused to nurse at her wealth.
Malice to go, it must, so milk can flow from mothers’ fountain of anticipations.
Despair in the ominous looks of lying helpers,
Hopelessness in masks of dancing deceit, identities in blaming music.
Mother finally spoke through her feverish parched lips.
Children must account, children mine you must make restitutions.
The milk will not flow until you expiate, only poison and pain and anguish and misery will erupt.
Children you engorge where you should share.
Children you bite when you should suckle.
Children you rape where you should cherish.
Children, with guns and swords and machete you come at me,
Not to cleanse, but to vanquish.
In toil, and humility, in labor with sickles, in sacrifices
With sweat, tears and blood, you must atone.
And she falls from her conceited stance. Accountability.
(Excerpt from ‘Our Mothers Sore Expectations’ by Kehinde Ayeni. Jay Street Publishers 2006)
Feasts of Phantoms
a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni
-- ISBN 978-0981393926
Available your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.