We walked to the market under the glare of an angry yellow sun.
Dust clouds covered the road, ugly gaunt ghosts.
We scarcely spoke as we stomped on, each step faster than the last.
Sold to our shared plan, we were focused, bold, hardened.
The scent of mangoes hung heavy around us–tangy, sweet, and supple.
The sounds of the afternoon were louder than usual, a canary’s song, a car’s horn, a baby’s cry.
She took sure, focused steps. Her face was as set as a mask carved for an Ekpo Nkan,
the dreaded local masquerade. By her my resolve was concrete. We would sell Mama’s
gold necklace set and be wealthy for the rest of our days. Our uncle Otu gave the gold to Mama
last Easter. Lovely ornament for a poor, hungry woman.
The red pouch felt smooth under my vest. The future flashed before me clear and sunny.
Days of revelry, enjoyment and pleasure. My hopes for a new set of clothes would now
come true. The old black sandals that my father had passed down to me would be freed from eternal slavery. Maybe we would even buy some chocolate, a small amount, just to know the
A large vulture waddled by the Eben tree, a bald bush of ugly brown feathers.
An omen? We hoped not. Yet we walked faster past the creature.
We were bothered, scared even, but no one spoke. Any word could weaken our
hearts; mark the return of common sense.
The head hunters got us before we could run.
They took our eyes, then our tongues.
Soon, they’ll behead us, one by one.