By Adedayo Onabade
The church hall is packed full
pews crowded and aisles stuffed with mourning heads.
Everyone is gathered for the very last time
for a happy soul,
a lively spirit
a compendium of dreams and intentions—
to look upon the face that was never robbed of a grin,
and even now lay in the casket with a smirk
(that last registered expression, as one in mockery of life);
Or bragging in the face of death
as if to say, 'Your time stamp of finality
and your scroll of records
are only a glitch in the continuum of my existence.'
Not even stressors could deflect
the warmth you once radiated—a glaring contrast to the pain we now feel
as we sit huddled in the auditorium of St. Martin’s,
our hearts raging at the failure of sheer desire
to tap you awake, back from the realms of eternal history into present aliveness
A miracle from which we should all abscond should it ever happen
And our minds weighed with a barrage
Of questions and musings
each one a slat of inquiry poking at life's essence
and wanton penchant for grand ironies:
That the apex of achievements boils down to a descent
To that trench of dark certitude, sure to consume men of all statuses,
great and trifling.
Shallow. You enter in with ease, even so without your own two feet
And Deep. Once installed and sealed in, you will live on only in memory,
transcending time and presence, basking in fluid retention and
the vigorous yearning for a miracle against all
facts, hope, and knowledge.
Where you are, it is hot. No air,
yet you are as cold as the death that eclipsed you;
lonely but not alone—burrowers find their way to you
A feast is ready, you are the meal
Not really you, but the shell case that housed you.
Your sonorous voice, no longer heard in the melodies
of moving hymnal renditions at Sunday mass,
Is today locked in the times you spoke, laughed, sang
Your vibrant voice reciting scriptures with a sure and steady purpose
now silent as though you are absent.
But you aren't.
We do not see you stand by,
now stripped of the shock that plagued you then.
As Death’s first jolts ran through your veins,
sending your brain into a flurry of activity,
a slideshow of the days you lived before your eyes
until the culmination of your breath
when your soul projected out of your body, that shell-case.
Vain urgency is now deadened, but one thing lives on in you: the knowing
that as you closed your eyes in death,
you merely took a temporary pose in time to open them elsewhere.
Adedayo Onabade is a Nigerian essayist, fiction, and poetry writer. She holds a B.A. from Olabisi Onabanjo University and an M.A. from the University of Lagos, both in English Literature. Her works have been shortlisted for SynCity's 'Poetry in times of Corona' and #TwitterWritingContest.
Adedayo volunteers with STER (Stand to End Rape Initiative), a social justice organization that works to combat sexual and gender-based violence against women, girls, and vulnerable people. Beyond writing, she is fascinated by NatGeoWild, art galleries, reading, and documentaries.