The long mile

She walks with slow dignity

Feet as lead, soul as stone

auto-pilot, behind him on this long last mile

a dark strangling walk, unfitting end to a journey

that had commenced with songs and stars

a mother’s heart frozen cold, numb

as sorrow scorches and freezes her

all at once  her to the core

of her being

 

No tears flow now

“He would not want me to cry in the public

Even though this mile I walk behind and with him

should be his to walk for me”

 

she dreads the end

the sight of another mother opening to receive and enfold him

the sound as shovelled in loose earth

draws the blinds forever

 

the tumbling sands drown her prayers

for the father’s bosom

to welcome this pilgrim

who returned too early

 

and as she  prayed

the welled up tears, push down the barriers

of soul destroying composure

and cascade, the heaving sobs and wails from

a shattered mother

shattering the solemn calm of a painful goodbye

 

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19 Responses to “The long mile”


  1. 1 Susan L Daniels May 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Noel, this is stunningly beautiful and overwhelmingly sad. The poem is so well woven together, tight and heartbreaking. These particular images made me catch my breath, they were so beautiful, and heavy with sadness:

    she dreads the end
    the sight of another mother opening to receive and enfold him
    the sound as shovelled in loose earth
    draws the blinds forever

    & the last stanza is so powerful it blew me away. I do think you meant soul destroying?

    Anyone who has seen a mother burying a child knows this poem rings with terrible truth and beauty.

  2. 2 Noel Ihebuzor May 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Yes, Susan, it is a very painful thing! and thanks for spotting the typo!

    • 3 Susan L Daniels May 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      The “Feet as lead, soul as stone autopilot,” image will stay with me–that deafening numbness.

      As for the typo–as I was typing my response, and typed soul, I also typed sould. How odd is that? D is nowhere near the L. What would Dr. Freud have said about that?

  3. 5 Alex Ihebuzor May 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Grand-Ma… We miss you very much. Lovely piece Daddy.

  4. 7 Victor Emeana May 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    For a moment I thought Christopher Okigbo has reincarnated in an Naze man.just same style,leading you to more than one interpretation,each appearing obvious.On the whole it is didactic but very, very sobering.

  5. 9 Razwana May 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I want to say I love it but “loving it” would be so inappropriate. It’s so moving really and it’s baffling how you always empathise so well with the women folk. I love the “mother” and “father” references. The mother earth opening up is so..I don’t know…oxymoronic? Trenchant that a mother (earth) can take with love ( another mother opening to receive and enfold him) and leave the other mother so devastated. Meanwhile, how does she have so much faith still in that Father who is to welcome him? Faith amidst so much pain? So so so moving. So complex, the idea of love, faith, belief, wrenching away, devastation, going to a seemingly better place but leaving your mother so broken….I love it, I dare say!

    • 10 Noel Ihebuzor May 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      It is a sad poem and one who captures I hope all the wrenching pain I feel when seeing a mother and/or a fathers acting brave at the burial of their child and then breaking down! painful!

  6. 11 Ochi Opara May 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Your previous poems(2) put me on same plain…”sobered me down the plains of sadness and reason…where the taste of the tear is a joy…”
    …found traces of Garrod, Okwubunka, and of course Egibro….. More please.

  7. 13 brian miller July 31, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    He would not want me to cry in the public

    Even though this mile I walk behind and with him

    should be his to walk for me

    that was really emotional for me as this slowly unveiled…the sound of the dirt falling on the casket…and a mother letting go a child…i can think of few things as hard….heavy piece…

  8. 15 Gay August 2, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Deep heavy and sorrowful. A parent shouldn’t outlive a child – though millions on millions have and it never lessens the pain. Poignantly penned.

  9. 17 Ify Joe-Atodo August 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

    As a 6 yr old girl,I cldn’t bear 2 watch my mum grieve over the death of my baby brother.I ran away & hid behind a tree for hours.It didn’t really make much sense 2 me then.But the fact that my mum was in anguish & pple whisperin & talkin in hushed tones was too much 4 me.As a mother,I’ve always asked God 2 spare me the experience,yet several parents have experienced it even more than once.No matter hw many times it happens death is one fact of life we can never get used 2.

    • 18 Noel Ihebuzor August 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

      It is a very painful experience – I saw my late father break down literally under the sheer weight of anguish when I lost a younger sister to child birth> One of the very few occasions when I saw him cry in public. My late mum was shattered. The baby survived the delivery and is now a 300 level undergrad!

  10. 19 topazo October 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    this is so sad…and the emotions are so stark that one would know the poet has partaken of them…
    to lose a child is one of the greatest tragedies in life….


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