In the Storm, a Country, by Omodero David Oghenekaro

                                  After the killing of cows and herdsman in Enugu

Prelude: [In the storm / the brief branches of lightning / stretch like the jagged edges / of a torn map / over a country / the storm thickens into night / the night fizzles into day / the day blossoms into tomorrow.]

Somewhere, sprawled on the turf, lovers are still finding
the right words     for the fire that chills      the leaves are still dancing
to the expired trills      of arrowed birds— the world forever flowing
                                  with the script of God.

Somewhere on the spine of the day, the soil is still innocent,
                                  filled with the dumbness of dust
the cutlass lies on a stone / like a dead wish, sharpened     but for the weeds.

The cattle march on, at the command / of the herdsman’s whip. Their tails
                                  flicking off / the buzzing tales    of flies
As they bow before the earth      to feed from her green palms.

Pause: [Imagine it went on this way— the cattle nibbling their way
                                  into a death     lengthier than a gunshot
the horizon expanding      with the golden light of survival.
And the sun didn’t have to return to water
             to find a headless body / in its stead.]

Play: Cruelty seeps / into the pristine air / like smoke / from a fire
                                  that can be heard      by what it takes.
The ground is stunned     by the weight     of the fallen / its gasp / a cloud of dust.

A storm brews in the heavens; rain-horses galloping along the sky’s
gossamer road— the rumble of hooves / echoing as thunder.
                                  The dead are still dead     but the blood sings.

Tonight the forest will come alive / like a painting / woken from
                                  the stillness of its canvas— the moon will shower
a confetti of birds upon the wild:

They will bear the severed head     of the herdsman / up / and it too, shall sing
                                  of the brutal swing / of the cutlass / of the final / painful / beauty
of the world / of the brief branches / of lightning

announcing the wreck / of a man. Tonight, instead of nightmares, the cows will moo
                                  into the dreams of men.


Omodero David Oghenekaro is a writer from Delta State, Nigeria. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Lolwe, The Deadlands, Trampset, Poetry Sango-ota, Yaba Left Review and elsewhere. He’s a member of the Frontiers Collective. He’s currently pursuing a degree in Biomedical Technology at the University of Port Harcourt.

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