Worshipping Julia

I found God one day
In the broken alleys and dark streets
Of a rundown neighbourhood bay
Beside the smelly factory pits

She was a little girl with eyes like stars
And little flies seemed attracted to them
Her skin was mottled with red-black scars
Lubricated by nothing but nosy phlegm

Her nails resembled broken shards of clay
Craggy, brittle – like the cloak on her little back
Her dark hair hung loosely as if to say
We have had nothing all day – except lack

Gusty whispers of the wind echoed
In her empty stomach – the cage within
And she shook a little as the clouds bellowed
The icy showers like a bag of sin

Her forlorn eyes searched mine longingly
Knees rattling under the stained polythene container
Where is my worship, she said seemingly
A rat strutted by – as if to disdain her
So I, wet and moved, fell to my knees
And worshipped the God I had found:
I pulled off my sweater from Tiffany’s
As she watched keenly without a sound.

Slowly, I wrapped her in my cold warmness
Her arms weighing no more than a feather
And lifted her unto my wet dress
As we stood motionless under the weather

Her muddy feet hung loosely under my left arm
Her hairy head rested limply on my shoulder
I could see a slimy worm without harm
Entangled in her hairy locks, colder

Suddenly she shuddered violently
And I began to be scared
So I ran through the wet streets hurriedly
And hailed a cab that fared

I could feel her small heart within
As I raged to open my door
I placed her gently on my mattress thin
Almost tumbling on the floor

An hour later, she was washed and fed
And put away under a blanket
She seemed peaceful without a word said
As I read her a story about Hamlet

‘Julia...how ‘bout I call you Julia?’ I whispered
As her little eyes shuttered off to sleep
She beamed a soft smile as I kissed her
On her forehead – a memory I’ll always keep

Morning came with a bright sun
I joyfully jumped off of my bed
Only to find the reason gone
For Julia was already dead

The doctors took her body lame
They said it was a bad case of pneumonia
They asked me, teary eyed, for her name
I called her my little Julia

I found her by the factory pits
The abandoned places of death
A voice of silence without wits
Deserted soon after birth
But in my little Julia girl
I found a mystery hidden
Like a thirsty leaf in a windy whirl
A divine story bidden

I sought a God in power’s sway
I sought a God in glory’s way
I sought a God in thunderous play
But I found my little Julia today

I found a cup instead of creeds
I found a weary traveller with tales of good deeds
I found a rag on a hag with needs
I found seeds in the stead of trees
I found a girl sickly and with starry eyes
That attracted little dirty flies
I found wounds that worms could despise
And a place where every flower dies
I found a temple without candles
A foreign light that filled the hall 
I found a door with broken handles
A journey to a compelling call

It’s been three years since Julia left me
Three years since she smiled in her sleep
I still pause so I can clearly see
The way she peacefully wandered into the deep

And though I miss this God that came my way
I now jump off my bed with much care
Knowing whenever I walk a poor neighbourhood bay
I shall find many other Gods there.

Bayo Akomolafe (2009)


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