#84. Floetry by JulietKego: Apollonia’s baby

Pregnant Woman Apollonia's baby

When aunty Apollonia got round in form
The wandering wind-watered whispers
Flowed on off deaf ears


Other reasons arose
Aunty Lili ate too much ugba
Aunty Lili ate too much akpu
Aunty Lili drank too much palm wine
From the always full keg of Akidi,
the useless village drunk
Mba nu, it could not be true
What they secretly suspected it to be

 

This nonsense-talking, stumbling-walking
crazy-acting, doe-eyed, soft-spoken woman
Whose husband, Ike, beat madness
into her fragile, pretty bones,
with pestle, knives and stones
And they looked away in silence
Till he beat out the very baby
he’d crudely forced upon her,
None believed her, after all, she was his wife
What right did she have to say no?
Even if he came home reeking of
Akidi’s famed milky waters
They even sneered at her in public
When he took off with Vickie,
the vapid village baby-nurse
And none called upon pretty aunty Lili
To see for a second how she fared.

 

Till one day they saw her naked
At the Eke village square
Asking passersby if anyone’s
seen her hungry child
Her tears would well up and
she’d wring her dainty fingers
Cupping her rounded breasts
She’d beseech the pitying faces
And whisper sadly: ‘find my baby,
it is time for him to suckle.’
A Madonna weeping for her child,
And even in her madness
the women feared her sultry-ness
It clouded them and revealed a meanness
And in their men an unseen kindness
Apollonia kept all of these within her
Poor, broken heart and plotted and plotted
You see, sometimes madness seeks the mind
And other times, the mind seeks the madness
In a land where the sane find no warmth
of love, the coldness of madness,
will an embrace quickly find.

 

After many moons slept and awoke
her shapely form, rounder it became
Supple, radiant skin flushed with new life
And soon the village midwife, Ugoeze
confirmed it to be so.
Apollonia be 4 months pregnant and some.
Aunty Lili has found her child.
Ugoeze asks her who did the done
And Apollonia laughs it off in silly fun

In these moons till her boy is born
Wives no longer look at her with scorn
They fear she’d reveal who it was
that fathered her son
You see, her crazy did not mask
her tempting beauty
nor sheild their men from her power
And secretly each wife had caught their
Men – husbands, brothers and sons,
look upon Apollonia with veiled fire
Way before Ike took her off the market
(Secretly they’d heaved sighs of relief)
Thus, none was sure of who did the done

And when she brought her son to church
To be baptized, she bluntly refused
that the priest, Fr Cletus choose his name
Smiling sweetly, crazy Aunty Lili proclaimed
In a haze of suspicious clarity:
‘He shall be called Oyilinnia’
As he grew, they would all look on at him
With curiosity and a deep sense of dread
That he may resemble one of theirs.
Who indeed knew where their lords
disappeared to all those nights
And into which strange, soft valleys,
(Sane or crazy), they’d sunk their shafts?

(c) Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido

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