Ritual of Tale-telling By Iheoma Uzomba

Ritual of Tale-telling

There are no tale-tellers, no bagpipes
to thread these words in rhythms:
sounds, seizures, thoughts
that linger and bloat a mind.

So, up on this space between breaths and
what goes for darkness, with torch fires that
cast our figures back in time,
shadows flailing in rush-wind

a man sits on a stool, inherits the mouths
of a thousand tale-tellers before him, their
features reliving and slamming
the crest of nightfall. He begins

with an aside– lulling the spirits that own his
voice, asking for a portion of wholeness– a
bidding to what language would
suffice his course, subduing the

many tangs a man’s throat croons after: twilight,
twilight and its twitch for warmth, twilight & the
consummation of soul. Once again,
he splits the tale in both palms, one

for each child, rubs them in twos until what we see
is a patch of light exiting his fingers, turning clouds.
Our fathers used to say: “nothing would
come alive when there are no tale-tellers.”

By Iheoma Uzomba


Iheoma Uzomba currently studies English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her works appear on Kissing Dynamite, the Dreich Magazine, Fact-Simile editions and elsewhere.

Leave a Reply