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SANCTUARY

by Joseph Marcel Ikhenoba





Before you, the spirit of the eight clans

on those bent knees, limonite soil, I tremble.

Before your golden wreath, your sanctuary

I rustled my shadow on the floor—blown away.

 

I lie before your Moccasin roots

on the green corn stead of ancestral hues

under your cradle, a growing seedling

tender my roots for the sun to petiolate.

 

Out of the dust of the brown earth

crackle your divine tassels to my heart!

Creator of all, the Breath-Maker,

rekindle the fire of blossoming incense.

 

We kept hearing elegy.

from among the lyre players, 

among lethargy.

Hearing the whirlwind across the shore

of fragments and discord among the knots.

 

Behind the crossroads of these burning trees,

the tangles of the scorching meadow,

we heard the buzzing of bees 

stinging the dancers—

like they stung Osceola and 

Billy Bowlegs.

 

We heard the vultures grunting on tree branches

to feast with shadows of their claws

and pick a corner on the wayside of the Everglades

in the water-logged trench of the Earth spirit.

 

Before you the great spirit of the clan

Listen to the chanting of our windpipes.

The white hyena wants to set falcons among the doves

and let the blood-dimmed ceremony drown. 

 

Everywhere, the white dove nested 

It looked like a grave, with ethereal eyes and quietness.

but Elders of the eight clans,

help us not to lose our dance and our folktale songs.


 

Ikhenoba Marcel Joseph is a native Nigerian who holds a B.sc and M.sc in biochemistry from the University of Nigeria Nsukka and the University of Lagos, Akoka. He loves volunteer work in the community along with sporting, researching, traveling, and cooking. He has multiple publications, including “Weathering World” (2020) and “Remember” published by Poetry South Journal. His short stories, “The Murder” and “Abeokuta Women Protest” were published by Writers Space Africa. Joseph’s poetry collections will be featured in the upcoming Native Voices and Iridescence anthologies published by Kinsman Quarterly.

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