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Here where Ol' Man River
empties its long, long story into the Sea,
its lips heavy with uncharted crossings

Where myths meander their way
through mangrove fables
bearing fragments of upland truths

Here where the River ends its song
let my own begin

I sing, then, of the magic of the Sun
so tropical on this uneven plain

Of alluvial silences brown with the rain,
mellow with Memory's music

Of the pecan-eyed pelicans of History
nesting in the artificial island between our skins

And cottonfields which drift into the distance
white with power, obscene with Negro sweat

Oh for the countless songs and fables
mothered by this alluvial dirt

Reared between pain and pang
in the outhouse of wounded tribes

Rising strong, drifting North, thunder-clear
brown like the Flood, bluer than the Sea...

In the sand, hoofprints of yester-wars
and I, sojourner, striving hopewards

Between Walker's songs and the fables of Faulkner

Niyi Osundare

Niyi Osundare is a prolific poet, playwright, and literary scholar. He was born in 1947 in Ikere-Ekiti, Nigeria. Having served as a professor and also Department Head of English at the University of Ibadan for eight years, Osundare and his family moved to the United States to allow one of his daughters the chance to broaden her education. He has been an English professor at the University of New Orleans since 1997. His most recent poetry collection is entitled
City Without People.