Journeying through Abeokuta one morning, a fleet of motorists sped out of the jam and soaked the air in reckless dust. An hour later, I came across a suicide scene: a silent woman wavering on the bridge.

A dawn of dim feathers; the road spat

Loud, a new mist of robot chaos

Where limbs were groves of lust, rouse

Beneath throngs of screech and curse

A faint dark in the wind, not voice-froths

Whom the morning had made all one with the soft

Receding shadow, stale shafts of night



The highway split is rounded by dwarfs, double-tiered

And strange procession on the flick of time

Offers a brown-rimed brew—of a lone sheath freed

From presences nocturnal, brown-eyed, brows brown

Shaped by the saddened hour. The light awaited harvest

Of the winding breeds when air was brown,

Brown as furrowed bricklayer beard shrivelled off

The brown-wings of the sun



Brown season it was—nostril

Draws breath in dew-wet ash, eternal to the soul…

Eternal to me comes the brush of feet

In sweet sprint of gore-shone death,


Sepia Photo credit - Pelumi Kayode

Photo credit – Pelumi Kayode

But it arose—

A strange image, when yet I saw

Sudden form at the haze

Of death’s brown consul, slouched

Despair of moth-plagued fur at embrace

Of the lingering guardian trough, silent as the world



And in that moment broke her tear of libation,

The brown suds of her heart. A racing cloud
Sunk her chin, for death she had known

First reaper of the dust to time’s scorn,

Pale-eyed of the blurry dome… yet such

Startled pause at the hem she knew

Now the trench teems with grief,

Joyful rite from the vicious deep

Brown was I, then, witness though

I spied the world through her eyes,

A human will indifferent to the hour’s passion

Shrunk in my ears, rose rueful

The imprecations of all humanity…


Woman, you must stretch out

Like the sky. And shred your soul

Against the brown belly of the morning river

Postscript: a poem which illustrates the tragic and fragile paradox of human survival in the spectacle of a suicide scene.

Oyin Oludipe lives and writes in Nigeria. He is the recipient of the 2013 WRR Poetry Beacon Prize. His poetry, essays, and reviews have been featured or are forthcoming in Radar Poetry Journal, The Guardian,,, Arts and Africa, Akewi Arts House,  The Provo Canyon Review, The Bombay Review, Image Magazine of the University of Ibadan, and others. In 2015, he was a judge for the Green Author Prize, a literary award for young unpublished poets in Nigeria.



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