In your ears my song
is motor car misfiring
stopping with a choking cough;
and you laughed and laughed and laughed.
In your eyes my ante-
natal walk was inhuman, passing
your ‘omnivorous understanding’
and you laughed and laughed and laughed
You laughed at my song,
you laughed at my walk.
Then I danced my magic dance
to the rhythm of talking drums pleading, but you shut your eyes
and laughed and laughed and laughed
And then I opened my mystic
inside wide like the sky,
instead you entered your
car and laughed and laughed and laughed
You laughed at my dance,
you laughed at my inside.
You laughed and laughed and laughed.
But your laughter was ice-block
laughter and it froze your inside froze
your voice froze your ears
froze your eyes and froze your tongue.
And now it’s my turn to laugh;
but my laughter is not
ice-block laughter. For I
know not cars, know not ice-blocks.
My laughter is the fire
of the eye of the sky, the fire
of the earth, the fire of the air,
the fie of the seas and the
rivers fishes animals trees
and it thawed your inside,
thawed your voice, thawed your
ears, thawed your eyes and
thawed your tongue.
So a meek wonder held
your shadow and you whispered;
And I answered:
‘Because my fathers and I
are owned by the living
warmth of the earth
through our naked feet.’
Gabriel jibaba Okara (born 24 April 1921)is a Nigerian poet and novelist who was born in Bomoundi in State, Nigeria. In 1979, he was awarded the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. This well-known poem by Okara is sometimes wrongly attributed to Dennis Brutus.