Note: First I have to tell you that my poem is little more than a tribute to a powerful poem written by a man who grew up in Nigeria and now teaches at Northwestern University, Chris Abani [ https://www.chrisabani.com]. As will become obvious he is a superb poet. What I found in this poem is that his mastery lies in his great compassion. After I read his poem, "Incarnation" I grew stormy. Troubled that there is a current political wind trying to make out that people from countries such as Nigeria are somehow less compassionate or less humane than we are as Americans. I believe that the more people accept that fallacy, the more this country totters on a precipice.
After Reading “Incarnation” by Chris Abani
As he slowly whittles down to bone in a hospital
a man born in a country our president describes as “shit hole”
whispers to his brother " even thirst is a gift. "
The brother leans over the bedside to sing in a language
only they and a few others under Acacia trees still know.
Songs their mother, grandfather, uncle spread over them
like blankets long ago when the were aimless
in a Nigeria where some infer men live like savages.
The poet gets close enough for his brother to “snore
breath and blood" into his large, helpless palm
while they are together there at the only border
where no one is ever blocked from entrance,
yet degradation is the expected rite of passage.
I imagine how maybe after the healthy brother leaves the hospital
he remembers an endless blue of Nigerian skies
under which the two of them read and dreamed
about the America where they are now.
That he sometimes may even wonder which one, this country
or what is left of his family are under a more grave threat.
© 2018 Ed Ruzicka
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