It was one Monday in the life of a Corp Doctor covering two hospitals. Having finished with the last patient at my clinic at the first hospital, I got to my locum to find a patient waiting, a little girl of about six years who looked pale and breathless. Her PCV came out to be 6%. There was no blood in the blood bank. Her mother, a single mother, was a 21 year old doing menial chores somewhere in Benue State. The man who had brought her to the hospital was just a friendly neighbor. I knew I needed to get her blood to save her life, so I volunteered some of mine and wrote a poem about it.
DIE A LITTLE
Little child, have we met?
Perhaps you reeled out of some UNICEF poster.
Bad air blotches mosquito-kissed skins.
Anaemia is an antithesis of capitalist ads.
Poverty porn exerts no age restrictions.
The ticking clock tocks:
every tick talks of you
Queen of the malnutrition pageant,
your sludge red cells don’t hold back sickly smiles.
Fleeting dreams French-kiss the air
your sparse cells are like a tiara of thorns.
If we all die a little,
perhaps you will die a little less.
Needle kisses skin with practiced ease,
rips into blood conduits.
And a part of me leaks into this bag.
I die a little to quell this child’s thirst.
Mosquitoes are to Africa what vampires are to Hollywood.
Africa’s towering giants wont conquer little David;
no, Jehovah is my witness.
Tomorrow when your sheen is restored,
I shall smile for the first time.
*Die A Little first appeared in Daybreak & other poems (Saraba IPCS, 2013)