Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Village Shrine




I placed my feet one after the other in movement

Swirling red African dust settling on my feet

As I eat the distance between me and my destination

The laterite road peters out to a leafy pathway

Noise of occasional passing cars and human chatter

Lost to the quietude of this enigma of an abode



Pulled forward by an invisible force of curiosity

I moved further into the forest towards the stream

From where they say my village shrine reigned

Even before the days of the father of my fathers'' father

And the deeper I went into the belly of the forest

The more fearsome the trees grew to be.



The shrubs became phantoms by tricks of my mind

And the eerie silence became loudly menacing

Running waters drummed to startle as I got near to it

And then, remembering the wisdom of the elders

I liberated my voice to hoarse shouts of the mortals

That the water spirits would go in and grant me safe passage



Between the water that streams life and the land of the gods

Apart from those initiated into the revered cult of priesthood.

The journey ends for the mortals not favoured by the gods

Just as the secret of the owl shall never be made known to daylight

So is the shadowy ancient trail to the seat of my village shrine.

My fathers'' father told me that I was initiated ahead of my mates



And so, I should not be afraid of a handshake with the gods

I shook off the cobwebs of trepidation hanging all over me

Looked around and in a leap of faith and courage

Jumped across the stream and walked into the thick undergrowth

Unnervingly evident that I was all by my curious self

It’s a journey across the fabled playground of the gods



I knew about them – feared messengers of the gods

Right onto my path it sent chills down my spine

I had come too far to tolerate thoughts of going back.

The ape considered me with fearsome judging eyes

Found me worthy of an encounter with the abode of the gods

Left me to my fate and continued on its tour of duty



Cries of unusual birds I did not see bade me welcome

I ventured yet nearer my destination.

Excitedly, I sallied forth into the last of the shrubs

Before the sacred grotto but as nothing prepared me

For the extraordinary spectacle that beheld me,

I was bewitched and enthralled.



I cautiously moved my unwilling legs

Towards the subject of my visit

I sat down on a carved ancient wooden stool

Right in front of the cave and picked a piece of white clay...

Clay of the gods

I crushed a little and applied on my eyes



With a gradual comprehension that

I was really in the presence of a force

Beyond my mortal understanding,

My eyes grew accustomed to the darkness enveloping me

And I beheld it - my village shrine

an Emeka Amakeze poetic expression.

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