I often get asked what the ‘story’ is behind a piece – its meaning and how it came about – so I’m posting ‘The Tale’s Tale’ for my published poem, ‘Wealth Surrounds Me’.
It’s a piece that’s very close to me, as it’s a slight snippet of the history of my birthplace, birth, and family background. It’s a personal favourite of mine because it includes a little of a lot. Everything in the poem is true: I’m from a monarchy; my mother could have been killed on the day of my arrival; my grandfather did have 24 children, but only 10 remain; my name means wealth surrounds me in Yoruba – one of Nigeria’s main tribal languages.
My birth story is a testament to my mother’s overwhelming strength, but I chose not to delve into it too much because I wouldn’t do it justice. A poem can’t capture the cocktail of fear and anticipation, and so I merely skimmed over the details, which will be fleshed out in a real story, God willing, but people of Nigeria probably know the traditional day I alluded to.
A traditional day
When a woman’s face is an omen
and my mother’s abdomen
could very well have been
I chose to intertwine my thoughts and feelings about Africa into the piece because Africa and its history is so vast, rich, and painfully beautiful. As an African residing in the West, I find that I appreciate and marvel at its splendour and glory from afar, whereby some resident Africans fail to recognise the very land they make tracks on every single day.
The spot where my birthmark
lies breathes richness
too fine for their blind eyes.
And amongst the breath-taking landscape, colourfully peppered people and their mouth watering culinary abilities, you have the scandals, the squandering, and the corruption that leaves a black mark on an otherwise wonderful place.
An inhale of warmth
beneath blue skies and
intertwined amongst lies.
If I’m ever to write an autobiographical book – which I keep dreaming that I will – it’ll most certainly be titled ‘Wealth Surrounds Me’, because as well as the wealth in, amongst, and beneath the land of my forefathers, wealth presents itself in the sprinkling of new dawns and the many people whom I’ve crossed paths with, and those who I hold near and dear.
“Wealth surrounds me.”
And to this day
she still smiles
“Wealth surrounds me.”
© LaYinka Sanni, November 2013.