I set you free that night, father. When you came back in that yellow Volkswagen, in that dream. I made a boat of honor for you. Woven of poems and words and not words. I set it on the ocean. Father Obuna said to me, a gift is freely given and a gift is freely returned. It has taken me thirty years to understand this. Yemenya has your heart now. May she be merciful. May she love you. The wound bleeds no more. Which is to say, what I have desired is like salt left out all night and gone. This is not a lamentation, damn it. This is a love song. This is a love song. Like reggae—it all falls on the off beat. If there is a way, it is here. They say you cannot say this in a poem. That you cannot say, love, and mean anything. That you cannot say, soul, and approach heaven. But the sun is no fool, I tell you. It will rise for nothing else.
From Sanctificum. Copyright © 2010 by Chris Abani. Used with permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Chris Abani is the author of There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), illustrated by Percival Everett, and Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010). Born in Nigeria, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Board of Trustees Professor of English and comparative literary studies at Northwestern University. He lives in Chicago.
Date Published: 2010-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/renewal-excerpt