From the Archives: "Marketplace" by Emma Akuffo


At dawn, the masses assemble,
their movements propelled by the rising sun
towards the dirt floor of roadside forges
where the earth has been ferociously shaken.

A kente of vernacular sounds weave men
drawn thoughtlessly from the tribal cauldron,
overlooking diversity, dissonance, and contradiction in culture.
Their flaws and strengths interact in a symbiotic ritual,
a division of labour to fertilise the medieval practice
Where the buying and selling of consumer goods is made easy.

The women cajole in high-pitched voices,
beckoning and haggling for buyers to sample their wares.
Others sit inquisitively like caged hens waiting to be sold.
Their children leap in the stalls as if they grew from them.

You would be surprised what a Ga woman can carry on her person,
adjusting to fit, inelegantly, the sleeping infant on her back
- her sixth; pushed upwards by a calloused left hand
whilst the right secures the excess baggage on her head.

And her life is like that, an incredible juggling act.
She makes a salad of it amidst broken dreams of her dirt floor days,
so she does not beg for bread or cloth to bury her dead.

Distinguished aromas ascend from the stalls -
some are like the colours, bold, delectable, beautiful.
Others are nondescript murkinesses of sweat, toil and tears,
turning the gears behind the scenery of forced encounters between strangers,
exchanging their life currency like a commodity
in return for a fulfilling lunch (breakfast and dinner),
for companionship, for whirlwind romances, for true warmth.

Trying hard not to be cedi foolish and pesewa wise
with borrowed seconds that merge into a goatskin parchment
record of brightnesses and darknesses
reflecting random customs, rituals and superstitions
that portray attitudes towards the world, God, and the cosmos.

Existence is wielded like a broadsword through thrilling and desolate moments,
stopping just before the shadows are cast by tree branches
causing the masses to retreat into the thin air from which they appeared,
their movements dissipated by the setting sun.

And life is like that.


Old poems at OGOV don't die, but live on in our archives! Every once in a while we will dust one off for our newer readers to enjoy. "Marketplace" was orginally published on OGOV on June 14th, 2008.
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