Lethe by Stephen Derwent Partington.
Stephen Derwent Partington
When peace erupted, none of us was ready.
You remember how the sticks above our heads
were gently lowered, how our riot gear
was sloughed-off like a skin? We rubbed our chins.
And yet, the dead, they didn’t rise.
Do you recall the day the grandmas of the Rift
embraced the grandsons of Nyeri,
when the youth were given grants to raise
manyattas they had razed? We rubbed our eyes.
But still, the dead maintained their peace.
Think back: the way the Lake and Ocean rose to kiss Mount Kenya’s
The glossy adverts in the Nation and the Standard:
We congratulate our leaders for restoring
Peace and Unity, and all is well in Neverland?
The dead began to wake.
Do you remember how they asked us to forget?
In 4-by-4s, Big Men from each and every province
drove a web across the land, their shining
megaphones proclaiming: Back to work!
The dead were spinning.
And the bishops and the diplomats, the councillors
and businessmen, they gathered for a conference
outside the new Grand Regency and told us
It was all a dream, an error, so now nothing needs be done,
some things just die, are best forgotten. No? Come on!!
You must remember how the landless and the jobless dead
erupted from their coffins with a shriek?
You don’t remember?! Let me help you.
Hold this gun. I have a cutting. Take a peek.
Stephen Derwent Partington is a teacher and writer based near Machakos. He has previously published a poetry collection, SMS & Face to Face, in Kenya. His poetry and academic prose has appeared in various respectable publications, and he is at present a contributing member of the group, Concerned Kenyan Writers for Justice.