Friday, November 8, 2013

Ouidah by Peter Akinlabi

Ouidah by Peter Akinlabi (p>I have come here face first, and furtive as air. I have come in a seeker’s mask, a poet-paleontologist, searching for text in the signs that must lift the veil off a Dahomeyan darkness, or translate shards of a mucky modernity into a reflexive function

I go by Ouando, treading through a government of sand insistent on adopting the shape of my stealth. I assemble memory in the heathen signifiers of her defunct name – a civilization now remembered only in its dismembered parts

The levees cling to their memory of feet; I, the ideation of the trudging – my lexicony, seeded in the interruption of unrevealing base of shapes, can only re-imagine such conditions of movement in ethereal mnemonics

But there will be time enough for us to dialogue on things like that - the loosening weights of dissolution, or the grafting of verisimilitudes- when we stand by the arch-of-no-return, each facing memory in opposite dimensions…

Now I listen to the red-stained sounds of Alounloun, and watch the boy sitting in the sand, back towards the Port, as if forgetting the seasons of the sea. His grief obscured by the night, dilating only in the sibilant consonants of the sea wind

The sea itself rumbles on in a tricky dialect, like the statues of Kpasse, reciting only self-absorbing character of loss. I pray to learn my Vodun vowels before the dark returns, or before the wind blows the mask in half mast, in memory of Black Bart…

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