The Passage by Christopher Okigbo

BEFORE YOU, mother Idoto*,
Naked I stand;
Before your watery presence,
A prodigal
Leaning on an oilbean,
Lost in your legend.
Under your power wait I
on barefoot,
watchman for the watchword
at Heavensgate;
out of the depths my cry:
give ear and hearken…

DARK WATERS of the beginning.
Rays, violet and short, piercing the gloom,
Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.
Rainbow on far side, arched like a boa bent to kill,
foreshadows the rain that is dreamed of.
Me to the orangey
Solitude invites,
A wagtail, to tell
The tangled-wood-tale;
A sunbird, to mourn
A mother on a spray.
Rain and sun in single combat;
On one leg standing,
In silence at the passage,
The young bird at the passage.

SILENT FACES at crossroads:
Festivity in black…
Faces of black like long black
column of ants,
behind the bell tower,
into the hot garden
where all roads meet:
festivity in black…
O Anna at the knobs of the panel oblong,
hear us at crossroads at the great hinges
where the players of loft pipe organs
rehearse old lovely fragments, alone-
strains of pressed orange leaves on pages,
bleach of the light of years held in leather:
For we are listening in cornfields
Among the wind players,
Listening to the wind leaning over
Its loveliest fragment…

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