Monday, October 5, 2009

“Orange Tree”
Chris Abani
1966- Nigerian

It is still there. Stunted, fruit hard, sour,
shriveled like old breasts,

the orange tree where he died,
hand vicing trunk in desperate hope.

That prisoner who escaped the nearby Biafran barracks,
his flight ending in grandmothers kitchen,

camouflaged behind baskets, pots, pans,
shallow grunts swallowed breathlessly.

Uncle fingered him, his smile cruel
as the uniforms dragged him kicking,

screaming to that tree where
they emptied bullet-hard hate into him.

Men. Familiar. From the village,
took the still twitching warm corpse into the near forest.

Dull thwacks of machetes shamed the afternoon.
Then the procession:

men, banana-leaf wrapped
packages on head, leaking blood.

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