© Copyright 2021 by Nnadi Samuel
In the stream beside our ghetto, you could almost hear the fishes' gnashing of teeth on the surface of water. This they say is everythingó that moment you remember hell & it's gorgon of sylphs, fading with the hummingbirds, all feather & pink. The wind here eats their flesh, & gifts them with drone stunts as they flap distances in choir lines, leaving claw prints for their eaglets to chase. They beak the shrubs from roofs, & suck branches till they lay like twigs, like trunks you'd make a giant nest from if heaven would stop yawning. In their wild thoughts, this was how God knew to fulfill his promisesó with ripe shrubs on the rooftop to serve as homes & victuals for them: the birds that feeds on air.
The air here is one talent the moths do not cherish. Kicked strokes like pretty butterflies losing their wings to harmattan blows. It peels the colors & flings it up, like a wallet of rainbow. Arc with shapes like Noah's ark, reminding us that animals like this aren't safe here, not in this clime, with non-veggies who knows little about petting.
The stars are gorgeous beads, when knocked between a weather. They close, like amputated oysters stripped of limbs, having their fingers in different folds cauterized by the wet burns that steams from a barnyard. The stench bolts with the wind, & the horse neighs to a near-death. There are haystacks plugged to the owner's ears, so he doesn't know when he loses a beast that feels like burden. His cattle would stray to the field, & lose their feet to potholes. They'd swim the mud & get tired of it. In a sennight, help would come in ropes & sticks, & teens tied to a guava tree, drawing hinds from a pit soaked up to the tip. The teats would bear cracks, & wean from it's milk to join the horses in their menial jobs trucking hays into a tattered urn. This is how helpless the cocks feels, when hands squeeze their bare trunks & spill the blood on our reeds.
Here, our hen counts her chick & crates her eggs in mud holes. But, this will not stop our hands from digging to cull the spoils. The next day finds her glued to the mud, shifting her claws, as if to trace shell lines to a spot where we cracked & made the protein look like sin. Livestock, like her chicksó alert in their cribs, dreading the hands that steals them. Each grip, a miss, a lost count of her census thing, & she's back again recounting the chicks, asking after their feathers, why they've grown so pink it feels like a color bet, or a near-death from our stead?
But, this is how we celebrate our eves, how we fledge the Christmas trees to lay eggs on their twigs, & yoke us all with lurid beams.
Christmas Yokes" is a keen inquiry into the vulnerability of nature, it's inhabitants & how well we feed of them.
Nnadi Samuel holds a B.A in English & literature from the University of Benin. He loves writing & other works of art.