A Poem for every woman who waited and for those who wait still…
I, Akweke, waited for you
And you never came
Seasons changed; the rains into arid air
Little boys grew into warriors
Maidens into sages
And yet you never came
I waited in innocence
Watching time, slowly creep up
I waited, pregnant with hope, expectant
Filled with longing, with certainty
I waited patiently but you never came
You never found your way here
With every rising tide flirting with the moon, I sat here in fear
I writhed in painful moans and sighs as my breasts grew fuller
And my woman-eggs broke down within and wept with bloody tears
Between my once smooth and silken thighs.
I wait still, impatiently and angry
Those succulent breasts now hanging low
The nipples framing my navel, shrivelled! Un-suckled! Un-latched
I wait still but now with a silent shame
Weeping in anguish, branded unworthy and a fake
Crouched and shrouded in a crippling cloak of heartache.
I wait still, dry, dirty and tattered
A once beautiful bride, now embittered and battered
Taunted! Ashamed! Accursed!
And now, I wait, no longer for you
But for your father, For the sound of his footsteps
On his way past my cold, empty, barren hut
Without a moment’s pause before my door
Had you come, my child, he would have held a feast
Invited my people and honoured my clan
Now he curses my ancestors and walks past without a glance
As he escapes to the heated warmth of my co-wife’s mat
I bear her insolence in stoic silence
The sharp, rude tongue of this child-woman as she rubs her rounded form
And breaks out in a mocking song, swinging those child-bearing hips
As she saunters before me and I bear her no ill
For had you come, she would not be here
Funny, is it not? To think that in a different world, another land
She, my new mate, nwunye dim, this wife of my husband,
May have even been your best friend, I imagine both of you in my dreams
Walking with the careless abandon of youth, hand in hand
And fetching me water from the village streams.
I waited for you, child but you never came
Not once did you grace my womb
And now under the moonlight, I grow old with loneliness and shame
The greys dance in silvery fires on the hairs of my once glorious crown
And on the gates of my Maidenhead
For decades, I stopped living and stayed stuck as I waited for you,
My beautiful unborn child
And now I choose to wait no more, for be it at 16 or 60,
The day of one’s awakening is the day life begins
I am finally awake from this nightmare
I am pregnant with seeds and eggs of hopes, gifts and talents
I shall yet live and birth my beautiful dreams
Because when we have the courage to trust
We finally see that indeed nothing is lost
When we stop our endless search and we cease to wait
Who and what we seek, find a way to our doorsteps and arrive at our gate .
© Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido (All rights reserved).
Author’s Note: On the surface, ‘Akweke’ is a poem about a childless woman’s pain as she waits for her ‘fruit of the womb’. And yet, she is actually a symbolic representation of all of us, as we wait for one thing or the other, and get stuck in life, trapped in the waiting game….
We’re often waiting for the ‘right’ ideas, time, the right leaders, businesses, careers, relationships, to look and feel ‘right’, waiting to be loved, for boldness, for joy, more money, success, waiting to retire, for the children to be born, for them to grow up, waiting to be appreciated, to pursue our passions, to live our purpose, waiting for a sense of worthiness, for wholeness, for perfection….and we forget to actually LIVE life!
And the irony is of course that we are often blind to the fact that we’re already whole and complete, and we are made perfect in all our imperfections, by the Creator’s abiding grace. And as long as we have life, we are eternally blessed with fruits of hopes, dreams, talents and abilities and our purpose is to birth them in this lifetime. In so many different ways, we are all AKWEKE and this poem is a gentle reminder to live life NOW, to be present in the moment and experience life fully and whole-heartedly!