[for George Egbuchulam]
The oxygen mask
and all those sachets of healing fluids
dangling and dripping from them
and the pain
and the pain—
your hand, gripping mine, trying to communicate
the searing pain coursing through your body—
did your hand gripping mine carry to you
the pain strung from my own entrails?
I recall, all too clearly, there were no mottled shadows of death
in your eyes: no flickering trace of any kind of
any such shadow—familiar not from memory
but from tales and dreams—did I see
and your panting speech concealed no parting wish:
I heard nothing even remotely hinting at autopsy
or embalmment or rites of passage of any kind—
I heard nothing, absolutely nothing, even
remotely hinting at secret grievances and
hidden fears and concealed passions
it was food you asked for
food and a drink of glucose…
were they the emissaries of God—
those trained and unfeeling hands that
cordoned your bed off beyond the reach
of all human prayers and hopes—
were they the emissaries of God ?
was it really over
when they wheeled you away in a gurney?
was it really over
as I stood there in that ward—clutching a useless
blood requisition form meant for the blood bank?
It’s not true, George—it’s really not true:
some kind of painful sight can, indeed, make
the human eye shed blood—it’s just that
no eye, no human eye, can see such blood—
the blood that flowed down my cheeks
as I stood there in that ward—my knees sagging
under the unbearable weight of the unanswered
prayer that your name1 has now become.
1[George’s surname, Egbuchulam, in Igbo, means: Don’t-kill-me-too-early]
Hyginus Ekwuazi is a multiple award winning poet and literary artist. This poem is written in honour of a young friend of his, George Egbuchulam who passed on in Ibadan late 2012 after a fight with cancer. Find information on Hyginus Ekwuazi here.
- Tales in Memories, the Lyrics of Thoughts: in Lieu of an Exploration of Hyginus Ekwuazi’s That Other Country (sueddie.wordpress.com)
- Rude Awakenings (simmbiosis.blogspot.com)
- What could be worse than an unanswered prayer? (rckhennng.wordpress.com)
- the whale on the tree – poem/drawing made in the aftermath of panic (girlsontheverge.wordpress.com)
- Twin brothers facing blindness choose to die by euthanasia (theweek.co.uk)