SILENCE AND PROVOCATION OF MEMORIES IN SU’EDDIE’S “BRING OUR CASKET HOME” – IN LIEU OF A REVIEW
TITLE: Bring our Casket Home (Tales One Shouldn’t Tell)
AUTHOR: Su’eddie Vershima Agema
PUBLISHER: Sevhage Publishers
PAGES: 84 pages
How does one review silence? How does one analyze it? Or dissect the endlessness and mysteries of its meanderings in the rivers of time? How does one hear when “silence shouted his message clear”? (Kindly notice how the poet personalizes “silence”).
Impossible! You will say. And these are the knotty and problematic questions that emerge in the course of reading Su’eddie’s tremendous debut, BRING OUR CASKET HOME (Tales One Shouldn’t Tell), a terrifyingly-titled collection brimming with the most adulterated and underrated of all sounds that has encountered an unfriendly milieu in today’s world- a phenomenon which Su’eddie knowingly or unknowingly sets out to warn that before everything (even man), there was silence: In the beginning was silence, and the silence was with God, and the silence was…(God?).
In a technology-oriented generation where the simplicity of life has embraced (quasi-destructive?) modifications in a bid to tango with the complex; in a world faced with salient exposure and practicability of the deepest savageries in man’s heart, and the spiraling degradation of his moral values, it is not so much of a difficult task to lose one’s self, to be unabashedly caught up in the bizarre romance with the ephemeral, the transient and the physical. It is mostly in the moments when tragedy strikes (in whatever form it surfaces) that man is forced to seek succor in the little moments of silence which nature, in the sumptuosity of her largesse, had bequeathed to him. In such moments, he turns to a “poetry of silence” that challenges and contends with the “noises” generated by his running mind which, hitherto, has no time to reflect on the essentials- the knowledge of a harsh reality- amidst the buzz and frenzy of his “Information-cum-Internet Age”, he will always return to silence, that fluid platform where the meaningless is ossified and the meaningful is intensified and given credence.
And this brings back attention to the core of this piece, i.e SILENCE AND PROVOCATION OF MEMORIES” in Su’eddie’s poetry, which can be said to be, among many things, a poetry of anguish and solitude, sadness and mellowness, silence and muteness, and the accretion of words that dare the reader to meditate on them- a quest made feasible only when his pondering soul is, yet again, willing to make a return to silence. Little wonder that this phenomenon is given significance by the poet when he chooses to close his collection with the affirmation:
To those who listen
Even silence speaks
There are different phases of Truth revealed only in silence and, paradoxically, those concealed therein, and this is why man’s life becomes like an unfinished poem left in lacuna by the poet to speak and reveal its distinctive intricacies to the external observer who comes with ontological and transcendental questions concerning the trajectory of its make-up. This is perhaps the saddest and most unaccustomed reality of human existence: man is not complete- he is an imperfect creature with a hollow that must be filled with silence alone. The moment he becomes unaware of this brazen truth, this greatest epiphany of who he is today and what he will be tomorrow, he is doomed!
It is noteworthy that the answers that man has been arduously searching for most of his life slide into the grave daily and unnoticed, cyclically abandoning him to grope in ignorance and darkness. Why is this so? Because he has dangerously rejected the corridors of silence that could help him reclaim his memory and, in so doing, his essence, too. Thus, one is not marveled by Su’eddie’s emblematic and subtle deployment of “casket” in order to paint the solitariness of the place where man’s final breath discovers its end and all his pursuits attain the culmination of their gratifications in the grave which, once again, is another “beginning of silence.” The “casket” is not that ageless object of sorrow that is seen at interments. No, it is the only memory of man when he bids a final goodbye. This is affirmed in the titular poem, “Bring Our Casket Home” (again, notice how the generic “our” is underlaid in the singular “casket”):
Our memories are our casket, the tomb, us
Earth and fire, our home and entire force
Keep us in you, spread our word and you would find the soul of our poem:
Bring our casket home.
This explains, to some extent, why in most cultures around the world, there is a period of deeper contemplation and reflection observed in remembrance of the departed, those whose caskets will be brought home- those whose presence have become the mist of absence. This is called “The Moment of Silence.” Perhaps, for man, at the end of his existence, the casket carrying the questions he asks daily in his silence may arrive home with the answers he awaits, or in the most upturned manner in which Providence tends to answer his questions, the casket may carry him in silence to seek answers in a home far from the one he is familiar with.
Silence! Silence! And, well, silence again! This is the resonant cry in “Bring Our Caskets Home“- the reading of which is a journey soliciting a certain, total quietude for the soul. Considerably, the poet, in memorable lines states in his fore-note- “We are all moving caskets” cocooned in silence, “a certain muteness” which is a forerunner to a sadness “pregnant to be born in the morning.” The aftereffects of this “pregnancy” are “tales one shouldn’t tell.”
In Su’eddie’s collection, the most thoughtful reader’s mind is subjected to the fact that man’s silence is capable of many things- chiefly, the constellation and provocation of memories whenever he is faced with the greatest perversion of presence- here, absence. It is always natural that he squanders the time remembering all that is worth remembering- a loved one or generally, any other subject of departure, when his “whispers” become
words now echoing on and on
denying a presence.
Or when he wears
a garment I cannot remember in part or whole-
a garment embroidered of loneliness, silence
the loss of your presence
the fading texture of your presence
Although Su’eddie inadvertently tries to subject the independence, totality and freedom of this “silence” within the mechanics of stanzas that are somewhat contoured by his strange but forgivable adherence to the rhyming tradition (be forewarned of this as you go through the book), he is able to achieve, amongst other objectives which usually come with creative writing, what he sets out to do. As a result, the reader of this collection will find in it the central position which silence occupies in relation to man- his gain and his loss; his love and emotional detachment; his happiness and sadness, and finally, in the tragic summary of his existence- his death.
And to the beloved reader of a Neruda, when you encounter the opening lines in the poem titled Uncertain Realm: I call you now/ from the shaky crevices of memory,” you are likely to remember, in no less tremendous manner, the engraving opening couplet of that immortal poem, the titular “A Song of Despair” in which Neruda bemoans:
“The memory of you emerges from the night around me.”
Finally, to say that silence is the totem of the consciousness of man’s world, his existence and his summation of meaning; that it is the custodian of the richness of his artistic investments, his shining light when his words embrace darkness; that it is the haven where his neglected memories are collated and stored; that it is the “concretized” shadow under which he hides and cast umbrage at the somewhat incredulous glibness prominent in words, is to lay assertions that must be certified
only when you, the reader, is ready to journey with Su’eddie and discover that
It all in there in the words”
Innocence Silas writes in from Abuja, and can be reached on email@example.com