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One Night at Victoria Beach

Written by  Gabriel Okara

The wind comes rushing from the sea,
The waves curling like Mambas strike
The sands and recoiling list in rage

Washing the Alanduras feet pressing hard
On the sand and with eyes fixed hard
On what only hearts can see, they
Shouting pray, the Aladuras pray; and coming


From booths behind, compelling highlife
Forces ears; and car lights startle pairs
Arm in arm passing washer words back
And forth like haggling sellers and buyers.

Still they par, the Aladuras pray
With hands pressed against their hearts
And their while robes pressed against
Their bodies by the wind; and drinking palm
Wine and beer, the peace boast at bars at the
Beach, still they pray.

They pray, the Aladuras pray
To what only hearts can see while dead,
Fisher men long dead with bones rolling
Nibbled clean by nibbling fishes, follow
Four dead carries shinning like stars into deep
Sea where fishes sit in judgment and living
Fishermen in dark huts sit around dim light
With Babalawo throwing their souls in four
Cowries on sand, trying to see tomorrow.

Still, they pray, the Aladuras pray
to what only hearts can see behind the
Curling waves and the sea, the star and the
Subduing unanimity of the sky and their
White bones beneath the sand.

And standing dead on dead sands,
I felt my knees touch living sands but
Rushing wind killed the budding words.