And then it ends.
What follows thereafter?
For those here on they know not
For the departed,
Do they know what happens after?
Do they stand aside and see
The pain of those left behind
Or lack thereof?
Do they see how their remains
what happens to their body
Do they still feel?
I look at the mound and wonder,
Does she feel angst at their betrayal
Returned to the place wherefrom
She had fled, she had run away
to regain her sanity
from one that is insatiable;
a philanderer, she had run
Away from a callous monster
Returned as she lay sick
Frail, weak, struck by stroke
Unable to fend for herself
Deserted by her children
East, west, south they had gone
Each to his own, except one
None willing to make any sacrifice.
Abandoned to her fate
In a bare room
Fed like a leper, the man, and the son
Barely coming near to clean her up
They hardly remember to push her plate in
or to gather those already accumulating dust
Filled with rat droppings and wriggling maggots.
He was counting the days now
He already made a list
It is going to be an all comers affair
He has crafted an emotional tribute
There’s money to be made
And then it happened.
She lay shriveled, all bones
She had aged terribly from lack of care
Her eyes still open,
On a threadbare mat
That would sooner join her wherever,
It has served its purpose
she looks unkempt, neglected;
They never bothered.
Time to feast and get drunk
Time to dance till dawn
Time to sell Aso-Ebi, time to make money
From the east, west and south they returned
A leopard will never change its spots
He has no shame. He squandered it all;
Money for space at the cemetery
He couldn’t account for anything
Yet none of them complained,
they know him too well
he couldn’t bear to spend so
Much on a corpse, a corpse…
bury her already
He pointed to a narrow space
And they dug, stopping intermittently to
Down shots of dry gin
Body glistening with dirty sweat…
They took turns
She stood aside and watched.
Do they still feel?
Can they see how their remains are treated?
How does it feel to be buried in a grave
Filled with water, a swamp
Is she cold in there?
If she could, she would resist
With all, that’s in her.
She shuddered as she watched them lower
Her body, she waited for them to protest
At least a feeble attempt…
Not one, none. She turned and wept.
Once again abandoned, betrayed, even in death
And then she died.
by Amaka Paul