[poem] A thief in the light

By Tolu Ogunlesi


Early morning pilgrims (caught in the eternity between bed and reclining chair)

Nudge one another towards an assembly line of questions,

As dawn creeps up on the building; sans passport.

In a million tongues, yellow cards black-market themselves.

But it is another voice that stands out, in a public-address accent:

The flight, Sir, has been retimed… We have been sending out messages…

The task at hand, of disguising survival chances as seat numbers, continues.

Outside, planes bask in the rousing light; place bets on take-off times.

And – that haunting look on the faces of those which descend! What will be

will be, unless fate, wingless and wanton, whips out a cold and contrary command

The minutes board, then the hours. Wait, wait, please wait, nobody tells you.

The Accra-bound from Lagos remains bound to the Accra tarmac. Or so you hear,

when you take off, hungry. When you land, the plane is gone, a thief in the light.

We paged paged paged you, they say. Whatever it means. You missed missed missed

In eight short Lagos hours, you tell yourself, all will be well with the world again.

The minutes board, slower than ever. The hours shuffle along. Sink back into your gloom,

Soon dusk will creep upon the building, and slip you a blank cheque of a goodbye,                          

As late night pilgrims (caught in the eternity …)

Nudge one another towards an assembly line of questions. 

 Tolu Ogunlesi (c) 2012


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