Image from glasschord.com

Image from glasschord.com

Do not run;

let your feet find root in the mud

that surrounds your hut, thick like

the collective dung of your livestock.


Place your hands on your waist and

puff out your chest, that you may

cut a figure at once daunting and admirable,

just like your fathers before you.


Hold your head high; stare the enemy

right in its frenzied face. But do make

certain that your legs aren’t unsteady like those

of the other men as they fled their compounds.


Be still, even as the earth

trembles from all the bombing and shelling,

and as the compound behind erupts in

an opulent glow of flames and cloud of dust.


If the enemy so dares, let him come.

This hut, which still bares marks of its builders:

prints of your ancestors scattered all over it –

it is yours to protect, like it had been theirs.


So let him come;

If he must serve you death, then you must dine!

You’ll have a feast, drink into the night, sing him a song.

And when the sun rises, it will be all over.


Do not budge; don’t be scared.

If it helps you, close your eyes and breathe;

ignore the present; shun the future, and

dwell only in the blissful memories of the past


Like the harshness of the harmattan sun last

year when your last daughter was

married off. How she knelt before you,

awaiting your blessing.


Or like the scent of flowers that filled

the air months later when she laboured indoors.

The rain was merciless that day, beating down the roof,

muffling the cry of the baby when it slid out of its mother.


It was right here, in this very hut.

Remember the uneasiness you felt? How you paced

tirelessly, for long hours,, until your good wife calmed

you with a touch, said, ‘it shall be over in a moment.’


Read sequel here …



One thought on “Do Not Run by Atanda Obatolu | Poetry

  1. Pingback: Why Not Run by Ogunlola Lateefat | Poetry | novelafrique

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