Niyi Osundare

1947 / Ikere-Ekiti

Alupayida*

I stay very long in the river
And I become a fish
With a head made of coral
And fins which tame the distance
Of billowing depths

I stay very long in the fish
And I become a mountain
With a mist-cradled crest
And feet carpeted by grass which
Sweetens the dawn with its glorious green

I stay very long on the mountain
And I become a bird
With a nest of polyglot straw
And songs which stir the ears
Of slumbering forests

I stay very long with the bird
And I become a road
With long dusty eyes
And limbs twining through the bramble
Like precocious pythons

I stay very long on the road
And I become a cigarette
Lighted both ends by powerful geysers,
Ash-winged firefly on nights
Of muffled darkness

I stay very long with the cigarette
And I become a clown
With a wide, painted face
And a belly stuffed to the brim
With rippling laughters

I stay very long with the clown
And I become a sage
With a twinkling beard
And fables which ply the yarn
Of grizzled memories

I stay very long with s-i-l-e-n-c-e
I become a Word

- - - - - - -* Metamorphosis
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