If only I could be young again
If only I had known then
what I know now.
So I sit with the Nigerian Igbo gazelle mask
narrow, bold, stark white diamonds
painted on a black background.
A stripe of earth ochre
where a nose would be
goes from top to bottom,
is studded with four rod-like protrusions,
Each of the four rod's ends are painted black,
the white have a dot of ochre at the end
surrounded by black, the white
a dot of ochre.
The eye slits are long and narrow,
surrounded by a thin band of black,
inside large white diamonds,
so I can see far, far.
But, most magnificent is my single horn,
slicing high into the air,
scimitar slicing forward, the sides
are a white diamond on black background,
touch of that ochre nose strip
bleeds over onto the bottom.
The front edge that cuts into the future
with such felicity
alternates dots of ochre and white.
Though I am but head and horn
all of my being,
chased by famished lions,
charges into the future.
Igbo yam mask, Nigeria. Photo by Stephanie
Wottreng, MSU Museum Collections.