Wind Wheels Turn

by Oluwafemi Hughes Jonas

Wind Wheels Turn

This is a witness’s lament from lockdown…
How did this city fall into its shadow?
Once vibrant colours gone, streets empty
Hushed, but for the distant cry of gulls

I heard us seek words to explain
Silence. Echoes of aching loss
And I saw shock waves
Hospitals swelled. Breathless
Safety nets in shreds
Care-givers reaching for threads
Tending life, in peril, their breath

I saw a nurse dying. Heard her newborn scream
A father held his face in his hands.
I beheld a man, Leon, on Broken Street
Flailing his arms, fragments of himself scattering

No-one heard his cry, until… Suffocated.
WHY? Why so many dead? Why the sun beams?
Tell me, Why  are Amazonian lungs choking?

Everywhere. Grief. A reeling river –
stone, whirlpooling oceans
Earth tears, flooding fields
Everywhere, air ashen in despair
Homelessness. Shivering sacks.
And everywhere in tents, in church yards
Loneliness pours out of pores
And everywhere bird song in the gaps

How in these shadows, can we continue to breathe?

Yet, I caught a crystalline uncurling
A tidal wave of gifts; food on doorsteps
Dreamed rainbows on windows
A ragged rage of love rousing. Reweaving
I felt the wind turn and saw, a woman as a black jaguar, run

Witness Joy, growing her wings.
Dragged from bed in dead of midnight.
In the middle of a council estate
Men with tools of tyranny, pinned Joy down

I saw her fight, saw the tape wound,
Leather twist, Heard chains snap shut.
Echoing corridors roared. Silence.
Body limp, bereft of breath,

I saw Joy leave.
Felt heartache and rage fuse in me
In the fleeting distance I saw, a woman as a black jaguar, run
A time had come.

As I stood beside Joy I saw
400 years, our ancestors
Weathering the storms.
And from afar, I saw a woman, as a black jaguar, run

What story must be undone to out-run the distances?
What strange diamond exposed?

On sugar plantations, on cotton fields
I heard a holler; a song call and
Response. Heard speeding wheels
An underground rail – road spin
The pendulum swings. And I heard,
A hurricane of wings on the wind. While a woman, a jaguar, runs

Today on streets, drum beats, pulse of feet
Youth rising up fists full of fire
A woman before millions, stands
Says ‘Lift our gaze to our purpose’
Our Spirit, is far larger than any state force

I saw in the universe           Dark Matters
In the midnight sky             Stars
Stardust under our skin     Jaguar Kin

Observed a crumpled leaf’s fall
Felt in earth’s dark womb, a seed
I wonder how a battered beauty,
Will be reborn, fragrant, violet, vermillion, indigo
Ask the Coral Reef, the Honey Bee, the Elm what they know
There comes a time to galvanise. It’s Now.


Honour and remembering: Joy Gardener and Leon Briggs, whose breath was brutally forced from them in the name of ‘law enforcement’; Harriet Tubman and Amanda Gorman, whose creativity, courage and compassionate spirit brought freedom and agency – restoring hope for future generations.