Atop the mango tree;
Into the deep stream;
In front of the frosty path;
I meddle my limbs through
Because I am a boy,
They say I’m my sisters’ buoy.
See, sorrows sing songs to my soul,
Telling time that it’ll have to run
Through stars and scars from my cloudy mind
And stones and pebbles on my childhood floor
If I won’t have all my sole burnt out,
Because boys’ souls bond but don’t shout.
Dear dangers are dangerous to all,
But pretty awesome to hear our call.
Green bushes and black forests have served as homes,
While mud walls and thatched roofs are working domes.
These little hands of mine are stronger than Iroko branches,
Since I came to the earth, a boy.
Mother’s words are sweet,
And sweeter still on bitter days-
For she screws my smiles into the boxes of tears
As she asks me away
From the last piece of yam in our meal pot,
But my body cries in the harsh days of every planting season.
If I look up to my father,
I see a big boy rather.
But if I want to play further,
They’ll make my joy wither.
And because I am not as soft as the “hard” in their words,
It is simply a creature of durable bones that I am made of.
“For how long shall I be a boy?”
I often ask.
How many days will my strength sit stronger than the burden society has
parceled for me?
Will my fears ever grow old and die?
Will abuse refrain from my little manhood simply because my parents
wouldn’t believe me?
I wish my voice can be as loud as the scolding I receive
So I can trace my tracks to peaceful times;
So I can travel through to adventures’ home
Where football fields will grow to the corners of my mattress
And grass-cutter holes will do good music from the comfort of our sitting room;
So I can always be a boy.
Should my sisters grow weary that I’ve been away,
Tell them I’ve found male sisters in the boys of my age.
Should mother and father refuse to lay to sleep because of my absence,
Let them know I’ve grandparents in the dreams of boyhood.
I’d better not shrug, but keep on heading forward
Even when the tides of growth want to take my mind backwards.
©Tydale Bassey Abigail.