Omanza Eugene Shaw
This poem was written upon hearing of the death of Napoleon Ricks, a loving son, brother, husband, father, relative and friend. All who knew him felt the pain of losing him. Napoleon was dashing and handsome with a natural spontaneity . . . easy to laugh and affable in his interactions with all. His brother Henry and I were classmates at the College of West Africa in Monrovia. I dedicate this poem to everyone who lost loved ones during the civil crisis in Liberia . . . a senseless war too brutal to be part of the divine plan. If I am allowed to speculate, this madness was brought on us by karma generated through decades of injustice. Though more than a quarter of a million people died, we must still hold on to our faith and continue to believe that there is a method to God’s plan, no matter how incomprehensible it might be to us. Mourners, weep not for dead leaves.
It started to change overnight . . .
the bright brilliant green
began to fade
ever so slowly,
giving way to a pale yellow
that crept across the surface . . .
like night stealing upon day
on a late March evening.
and so, Death conquered my dying leaf.
but as is birth, magnificent,
so is death:
the sharp contrast of hues,
dead by living together— one bright yellow, while
the others displayed
spotted patterns of green and white—
animated the evolution of man
and painted a picture for we who
would stop to look,
buried between two pages of a Webster dictionary,
my dead leaf remains a sight of
wisdom, wonder and amazement . . .
God’s wisdom, my wonder, the world’s amazement,
that Life and Death,
partners on the road to eternity,
are two great manifestations
of the Master’s handiwork.
Mourners, WEEP NOT FOR DEAD LEAVES!
instead, glorify the Creator of the universe,
for She giveth and He taketh away . . .
as it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be,
world without end,
— March 1980
Copyright © Omanza Eugene Shaw
* Omanza Eugene Shaw is a photographer, photojournalist, photographic artist, actor and poet born in Monrovia, Liberia. He lives and works in Accra, Ghana.
Culled from Pambazuka News.
2007: From Siahyonkron Nyanseor’s Archive