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THIRD WORLD RESURGENCE

Night rain

John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo

The poet, dramatist and critic John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo (b. 1935), whose poetry celebrates the physical landscape of Africa, is widely regarded as the most lyrical of Nigeria’s poets.

What time of night it is

I do not know

Except that like some fish

Doped out of the deep

I have bobbed up bellywise

From stream of sleep

And no cocks crow.

It is drumming hard here

And I suppose everywhere

Droning with insistent ardour upon

Our roof thatch and shed

And through sheaves slit open

To lightning and rafters

I cannot quite make out overhead

Great water drops are dribbling

Falling like orange or mango

Fruits showered forth in the wind

Or perhaps I should say so

Much like beads I could in prayer tell

Them on string as they break

In wooden bowls and earthenware

Mother is busy now deploying

About our roomlet and floor.

Although it is so dark

I know her practised step as

She moves her bins, bags and vats

Out of the run of water

That like ants filing out of the wood

Will scatter and gain possession

Of the floor. Do not tremble then

But turn, brothers, turn upon your side

Of the loosening mats

To where the others lie.

We have drunk tonight of a spell

Deeper than the owl's or bat's

That wet of wings may not fly.

Bedraggled up on the iroko, they stand

Emptied of hearts, and

Therefore will not stir, no, not

Even at dawn for then

They must scurry in to hide.

So let us roll over on our back

And again roll to the beat

Of drumming all over the land

And under its ample soothing hand

Joined to that of the sea

We will settle to a sleep of the innocent and free.

*Third World Resurgence No. 321, May 2017, p 44


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