Dedication From Moremi by Wole Soyinka

Earth will not share the rafter’ s envy ; dung floors
Break, not the gecko’ s slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for life

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As this yam , wholly earthed , yet a living tuber
To the warmth of waters , earthed as springs
As roots of baobab , as the hearth.

The air will not deny you. Like a top
Spin you on the navel of the storm , for the hoe
That roots the forests plows a path for squirrels .

Be ageless as dark peat , but only that rain’s
Fingers , not the feet of men, may wash you over .
Long wear the sun’s shadow; run naked to the night .

Peppers green and red — child— your tongue arch
To scorpion tail , spit straight return to danger ‘ s threats
Yet coo with the brown pigeon , tendril dew between your lips .

Shield you like the flesh of palms , skyward held
Cuspids in thorn nesting, in sealed as the heart of kernel—
A woman’ s flesh is oil —child , palm oil on your tongue

Is suppleness to life , and wine of this gourd
From self- same timeless run of runnels as refill
Your pod lings , child, weaned from yours we embrace

Earth ‘ s honeyed milk, wine of the only rib.
Now roll your tongue in honey till your cheeks are
Swarming honeycombs—your world needs sweetening, child .

Cam wood round the heart , chalk for flight
Of blemish— see ? it dawns !—antimony beneath
Armpits like a goddess , and leave this taste

Long on your lips , of salt , that you may seek
None from tears. This, rain – water , is the gift
Of gods— drink of its purity , bear fruits in season .

Fruits then to your lips : haste to repay
The debt of birth . Yield man- tides like the sea
And ebbing, leave a meaning of the fossil led sands .

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