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If pictures could tell the stories behind them, how would the world look at the Ones in them?
Seeing ‘pictures’ and ‘frames’ as recurring symbols in the several poems in “In My Father’s House”, each poem is a story covered within the picture fitted in a frame improperly hung on a wall. I read these poems and concluded them as ‘souls’. They are libation of the ghosts buried within the heart of each author, which might not be freedom, but a voice let loose.
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In the opening poem by Adedayo Agarau, the poet explained a situation as the “yellow wall” upon which the the family photograph hinged. The persona pictures a naive child held in the arm of a father standing beside an ill mother. He showed a mother thrown into the arms of storm when she was not yet ready. A societal ill. A societal ill because, one would wonder what happened to her guardian, one who was meant to be an angel? Hence, he masterly paints a synecdochic image of a society (quietly) in a family.
Nome in his poem, paints a more sick family drowning in their own seas; individually and as a family. Micheal Ace explains how a man is trapped in such sea, he speaks, “things that hold me captive like the front door with a broken doorknob”.
Patience begins her poem with the ironic biblical parable, “many mansions in a house” she explains how her father is God, how he built his children in speck of rays. She explain father’s construction tool as a plan mat spread into pulpit, books and maps. Hence the subject of the poem is confined within this plans making her a “tenant, debtor, snail, and a sealed heart” among others in her father’s house. And she did not fail to explain how the females were raised as men and men as women. An imperfectly perfect home, one could say.
Most of these poems like pictures, label silence on their lips, such as found in Farida Adamu’s work, the quiet wondering of a father’s honor “hanging so low on the wall” in the anonymous’ poem, the “memories boiling father’s tears”, and the “music my ears live to hear” in Chanda M. Chingo’s poem.
Many of these poets tried to see if they could hold the burden of griefs in their homes on themselves. Bamigbola Silas tried to “explore the cities”. Mesioye searched through corners, to see screams of discomfort which made him doubt if father ever had a house (of comfort).
Adewale Iyanda talked about the abuse his persona suffered as an infant, things too horrible; the memories he tried to give “befitting burial”. Keem Tunde in his own poem chose to be a “light shining at the dark corner of the wall, shining on the faces in the photograph. His start was a climax; how a wall was dedicated to hold family wars. Wars fought individually, yet mutually.
Olanrewaju Olamide showed domestic violence as an issue in the family house. Derrick Ifemeni showed a form of child abuse too. Nonso Sarah showed issues of abandonment, where the siblings were left to “spurt into light, on their own”, and the father became a burden “crushing their weights”. Amao Williams showed a child that suffered depression, welling into fears, introverted.
Almost all the poems, showed the strong will of the young ones, to survive. Like how the little sister in Ayoade Samuel’s poem, chose to bear the “grey” responsibility and became older than the siblings. Emmanuel Paradox pointed how the kids quitted and dipped their feet into into “grey ashes” to tread an unknown path of the future which he called “streets of muted tomorrow. Some seemed not strong enough, but prayed for removal of obstacles such as “father’s death” as David pointed.
As the Good Book had said, Ephesians 6:4 KJV
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord., it seem this is a gem covered in sands in the ocean of the society painted by the poets. Every father (but one) is an emblem of a shield not too proud to be lifted. Olaniyi Ololade showed how a mother tried to cover/clean a “father’s dusty portrait”. How the father taught the child into brutality. A father who left a battle for his child to fight, by losing it in his own time. Adedolapo Ansel showed how a father’s house held “broken man-sons”. Another man ran from what ought to be his skin, which left a child to describe him with a left finger in the mother’s voice as “a man supposed to be a father”. Johakeem Talisman showed the father in his poem as a glutton with a stomach opened to life, while the children “ravage crumbs like sickly gnomes”. Aire J. shared sticking metaphors like Talisman’s, about how a father ran to hide in his mother’s womb, and then finally dissolved into his wife. Abiodun Praise showed a man at the mouth of a graveyard “picking light out of a boy”. What more could vex, hurt, abuse and harm the soul of children in these poems, with fathers unable to be themselves?
Opeoluwa showed a father’s house as a tree of life with good songs. A different taste from the many other poems. But it is such a delight, it is like finding a hour of peace after waring raging storm all night in a ship.
Some voiced ou their opinions of change through the letters in their poems, Ayooade Samuel suggested “father build a new house”. The mother in Osa’etin’s poem “never stopped talking” about who a “father was supposed to be”.
Sometimes, swallowing becomes hard for me, with my throat -a dessert void of saliva; having read ills and sadness, and words too heavy for the sun, littering the lines of these poems. Fame Odey’s poem was an air with sadness hanging in every molecule. Akinlade Seyifunmi showed a house whose head is a man with a faulty head. He showed where the absence of a mother left the children to saddening ends.
The photographs planted in this work held a mutual aura of a thousand cacophonies muffled behind the characters in them; head bowed, ruins, deserted homes, cracked walls, different people holding their wars in their still images.
Ayoola came like an hurricane, with a whine, and a peace, a whine and a peace. He painted every man imperfect. He showed a father with fault, whose mood changes with the day -morning noon and night. Yet, this father would weave them words to make the children better fathers than himself.
Like (Sir) Funso Oris had spoken of the dissension about many, if the poems were real experiences of the poets or not, I will choose to ask some corroborative questions. What does it matter if they are personal or not? Does it change the reality that the various issues treated under “My Father’s House” is a reality in our father’s house -the society? And if something affects a neighbor, is it not my burden already? So, If pictures could tell the stories behind them, how would the world look at the Ones in them?
I will say, when a poet can bleed situations in ways that the audience can hardly differentiate if it is his story or not, then can he be called a master-poet. Such ability to make a work credible is the essence of art. If that be the case, then these poems are not just situational, they don’t just ‘address issues’ which is the obvious emblem worn on this anthology, they retain their tenability of being ‘an art’. Then, I ask again, If pictures could tell the stories behind them, how would the world look at the Ones in them?
Mosobalaje M Abimbola is a poet, writer, critic and a teacher of God’s word. He is the author of Ripples From The King’s Court published by Dwarts Publishers.
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