Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Three Poems By Nasiba Babale


I pluck reminisces of my lover’s face in yours
Somewhere in the mines of the gaps in your teeth
I stare at you
And you smile wider
And I look through images of my lover
For ways your lips resemble his
You touch me
And I remember my lover
The feeling of his hand running over my bumps
I stretch, and you touch me more
I shut my eyes and picture my lover
Me: a guitar
You: his hands playing me into melodies
You kiss me
And I taste my lover on your tongue
Your mouth: an endless abyss of lost things
My tongue: a frantic hand rummaging
For familiar things
You hold me
And I dig deeper
Your moans: the excited cries of a man who found a hidden treasure
My moans: the desperation of a soul looking for a lost treasure.

Somewhere on a Road in Kano

A woman sits in a Keke Napep
The harmattan wind slapping her face
She hugs herself tight
Perhaps the heat of her body
Could warm the cold seeping into her bones
Somewhere next to her
A woman sits with her baby strapped to her back
Her face adorned in different shades
Of poverty and neglect
Little flakes of Pap, or mucus
Or both highlighting her cheeks
She cries and her mother scolds
And threatens
Showering curses on a soul too innocent
To discern the taste of the hostility

Being served to her
She cries again and the mother pats her
Giving her sweet and promising her more
If she tames the demons in her mouth
She cries again
And curses raced with the cold to land on her body
The other woman watches
Wondering how, like a pendulum
A woman oscillates between compassion
And hostility to her child
Somewhere on a road in Kano.

What Grief Does To You

You become dumb
Unable to weave the thousand thoughts in your head into words
You stare at people with empty eyes and sullen face
You forget your lips have other uses
Apart from letting your feelings escape in an inaudible sigh
This is how grief makes you forget speech.
You become old
You fail to recognize the figure looking at you in the mirror
You see wrinkles on your face and wonder where they come from
You look for your strength somewhere among the teardrops
Forming a puddle around your feet
You forget that you are a woman basking in the aura of youth
This is how grief makes you forget your age
You become oblivious
Unaware of life happening around you
You cross the roads slowly
Deaf to the deafening horns and curses raining on you
You do not feel the dirt on your clothes weighing you down
Or the stink that disperses people when you approach
This is how grief makes you mad.
You forget
You see the faces of your loved ones in strangers

Your feet forget the road home
You grab a man and call him your husband
His wife screams insults and you hold even tighter
You forget that your husband is somewhere in a city that is a debris of war
You forget you never had a husband
Bullets reached your father before your suitor could
This is how grief makes you insane.

Nasiba Babale is a poet, literary administrator, the Secretary of the Poetic Wednesdays Initiative, founding member of For The Love of Poetry and moderator for Glass Door Initiative’s Poetically Written Prose contest from 2019 to 2021. She was one of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize judges in 2020, organized by Poets in Nigeria. She was a co-organizer of TEDxAminuKanoWay in 2019. She is a fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency, Iseyin, Nigeria and lives in Kano.

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