Grain-scatterer, we too have shed our apostolic alias
and followed you into the shade to hear our voices
bloom. Here rapoko, here chibage, here zviyo, here
nzungu, here nhanga, here sweet, sweet nhope.
Here a name we call ourselves.
Here a thing we will not do: thief.
Grain-distributor, we will trade words with you. We
give an mbeu here for a buried seed there. We
mark up the goods by candlelight, in blue or red
ink. We shrink with doubt from a place called
Nation. One thing we can say for sure: We will never be
a colony again. Need the obvious be stated this way?
Gainsayer, what would you ask us to ask now: What is dying
below the topsoil, that dusting of iron will, nitrous rage,
pot ash? What birthright is traded when a crow
takes cover in a rooster's nest? What will translate this
long century into a new election cycle, a conference
of women, men, young visionaries, old dreamers
debating under the Wangari's forest of green umbrellas?
We will plough your plot, furrow its surface, burrow in the
tunnels of language. Our dismay is our hope, present at
every meeting. In simpler times the answers might have
slipped off our tongues. Now family feuds erupt into wars.
It seems these devilish thorns and eroded rock are also our
inheritance: these lands, these languages, these mother tongues.
You have left us no choice, O stubborn prophet of Gĩkũyũ,
but to try our tongue, and listen as silence softly