A Vow of Paradise
I made you a vow of paradise
Though I knew I could not find the time
To show you how much I cared and treasured
The sincerity of your love and devotion;
I wanted to take you to my father’s plantation
Where birds found some pretty preys;
Or to the river that hums behind our farm,
Where waters stumble from yellow, jagged rocks;
I wanted to pester you with sips of lavender tea
Plucked from my grandmother’s pristine garden.
You would drink till your shoulders cast down.
Paradise was all that I wanted to give you.
I longed for the sun to stay and the day to shine;
I wanted birds to thrill you with their songs in flight;
And streams hissed while gushing down the hill
Where lilies lined up the way to the River,
Where fishes jumped and dived like planes in the sky;
We would roam around the deepest part of Egwele forest
Where rabbits hid as lions groaned in deep sleep.
I wanted you to see my garden in the middle of rocks,
Hedged between pews of outstretched yellow stones,
With long, narrow holes in yellow or orange shadows.
When I made you a vow of paradise, my love,
I thought of the pretty little flowers of my dazzling farm
Surrounded by meandering streams and clustering stones.
I admit I failed, my gorgeous darling,
In the first promise that I ever made to you,
The time, the means to make you believe
That our love was the best that happened to me
And the ultimate reason for this life of pain,
When I should have ended it all long ago;
I know I failed to take you to the clouds
Where happiness was chewing the fluffy stuff,
And fulfilment split us like glass on a whetstone,
Where your head could crack up the ceiling,
Or roll with dizziness at the memory of my farm,
Love rattling your heart like shattered glass,
Hate purged from us like rain from the clouds.
Yet I must blame it on the times, my pretty baby,
That flies like a comet across the nervous sky,
Not in my inability to find the means and time,
But in those innocuous wheels of change that hit us
At such a time as this when joy is a dreadful phantom
Of all the dark things that occur to us every day;
See men drop from the sky like balls of rotten fruit
And children moan at midnight like groaning rain.
The albatross stifles its cries as though in labour,
Its funeral dirge the soul-shocking melody of the time,
Its fluttering wings the lonely, beautiful sights in the sky;
See the cricket lights are dimmed; its wings clipped,
When darkness covers the world no man can see,
Nor set foot in the farm where paradise lies in wait
For besotted lovers to fulfill their long-held promises.
But listen, love, at the distant moaning of water
Towards us like the squeal of a home-bound train,
The sky is brightening, the forests gleam with light,
Soon I believe darkness will clear the way to day,
And it will be another great day for us to dare
And fulfill our long-forgotten dreams and fantasies.
There is hope again in the coming of days,
That I will take you to the back of our farm,
The pristine garden with ancient fruits of love
Planted to cure the diseases of the soul and body
And free the minds from the rigours of the times;
It is time again to show you all around our garden,
Where flowers bloom and birds hum to the leaves
As daylight rises to wipe the gloom of the night.
Jonathan Ukah lives in London with his wife, from where he writes poems and prose. His works have been published in literary journals. He studied English and Law and his social media presence is felt on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.