Friday 8 June 2012

News of Dana

I was at the airport with two of my children on 3 June, waiting for the Dana aeroplane that was to fly us from Lagos to Abuja. It never arrived. At the airport, the news of the plane crash started off as a rumour but quickly became a horrible reality. It was terrifying for the people who were waiting for their loved ones at Arrivals.  Many Nigerians have been affected by this tragedy, one way or another but things can never be the same for those who lost family members and friends. 

I dedicate this poem to those whose love will always remain with us.

News of Dana
(for those we lost in the Dana Plane Crash- 3 June, 2012)

Before it arrives,
We recline on the cold metal seats
Of the departure lounge, chat idly.

It filters through the aisles
Until we mouth the word ‘crash’,
Speak plainly to God about His mercy.

Our phones die quickly
From the din of anxious kin. 
They have heard it too:

Beak broken, wings ablaze,
Dana has fallen out of the sky.

It penetrates our portable pads like poison,
We ignore the forty-four feet chasing leather
On local screens. 

At arrivals, the joy of expectation takes off.
Tongues fold back, hearts pump,
Fear presses a nail on hope’s vein. 

The horror is made true in images -
flames fanning a tail feather.
Then the flight manifest creeps into the conference room

Here, a terrifying call and response.
For every name, a chord is broken.
For every letter, a new reckoning with loss:

Of a father who will never come home.
Fingers fumble and scratch at numbers.

Of a mother who will never soften or soothe.
Legs weaken and bladders split open.

Of a sister whose face will frame a condolence register.
The concrete floor cannot comfort them.

Of a brother who will only be liked on a facebook page.
The walls offer no relief to the palms that pummel.

Of a child who will never whisper in deep sleep.
This is neither night nor a dream?

A firm embrace for the grieving,
one heart beats the other.
We must hold on to the living
In this moment of melancholy.
The degrees that separate rise,
And clotted blood thins
into a common stream.

-Lola Shoneyin

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