Wednesday, August 5, 2009

òrìşà oko (1)

òrìşà oko
african tankas

the primordial
virgin mother, sweet yemmu,
had a wondrous farm.
& on that farm she grew yams,
yams so tasty sweet & white!

yams grown with magic,
imbued with virgin essence.
òrìşà oko ,
spirit of fertility,
who shared & kept her secret,

farmed her precious yams
with steadfast fidelity.
none could pry from him
the secret of their savor,
the secret of their flavor

òrìşà oko
who never had nor desired
a woman’s comfort;
who could not be tender-trapped,
who only loved his farming,

iyan & emu
(pounded yam without blemish
& milk-white palm wine),
placed his hunger before sex,
food & drink before women.

along comes şango
craving yemmu’s bata drums;
went to her begging.
why the virgin told him no,
the pataki’s don’t reveal --

but she made of him
a bitter, unrelenting,
unrequited foe.
to his mother he did turn
to plot the virgin’s ruin.

yemọja turned her
charms on òrìşà oko
to steal the secret
of growing yams. he resisted
her; kept his wits about him.

oko elefun
was strong when yemoja bared
her melon breasts;
even when she stroked his gourd.
but she came to him each day,

more lovely than the
day before –until his great
need awoke & his great strength
surely broke; his lust revealed.

it was alara,
yemọja’s beautiful road,
who did seduce him,
sucked his secrets out of him
& made him betray his trust..

yes, he laid with her
every day & all day long
to sate his great lust.
he neglected yemmu’s farm
‘til her yams withered & died.

to şango, her son,
yemọja gave the secret
of yam perfection,
he started his own yam farm
to rival that of yemmu.

at harvest, şango
took a bushel to yemmu,
the best of his lot;
traded for her bata drums
& spared her reputation.

the conspiracy
complete, yemọja tired of
òrìşà oko,
left him shamed, insatiate
& grieving his only love.

the great mystery,
olódùmaré heard him,
(eleti gbo hun
gbaroye eda) all
hearing ears for our cries,

raised the farmer up.
healed him, loved him & blessed him;
cleaned away his shame,
made him judge of òrìşàs,
arbiter of their disputes.

& into the earth
òrìşà oko placed his
lust; made her fecund,
fertile & fruitful. (ọla
ọlọrun rẹ ni njẹ!)

© Joseph McNair; 2009

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