He has been dead in the African earth
my lifetime. I am old enough to be
his grandfather. He used to shadow me,
sometimes like a conscience. Was I the man
he had been? I know him from photographs
and anecdotes. He is a stranger, young
and silent, smiling at my mother.
Death devastated both their lives: was painful,
pointless, undignified, whoever
he was, has become – Plot A, Grave 5,
Ibadan Military Cemetery.
All those indistinguishable bones –
Muslims, privates, fathers!