Invocation of the Morning // Or Oríkì Orí This day I wake into the arms of dawn; out from slumber’s grave, I praise the heavens— my hands stretched out like gates— I praise the earth— my voice crawling up the ladder of a song— Sleep is the death we die daily, gratitude to all the forces that rise us again. Hear O heaven, tremble O earth at my invocation: I bless my head with the blessing of a cowrie--- white of the sea--- a small thing sought by the diviners--- little as I am, let me be meaningful. Let men seek me as they seek the cowrie. Sea wind, sea tide, sea current, sail omijé far away from me. Sea wind, sea tide, sea current, float ayò towards my life. Let all good things come to me. All good things, I say, come to me. Invocation at the Sea I stand before the sea, a boy seeking a miracle— I desire the door of my eyes be opened to see the gone glory of my fathers. My heart thrums the rhythm of our oríkì— let the earth spin around its head at the mention of my name; let the priest’s gong be clanged at my arrival at the shrine. Omo owá, omo ekùn. Èmi ekùn, oko òkè. I carry an ache within my bones wide enough to house a mountain. I yearn for joy— to reclaim what was always mine— the glory of my ancestors awakened in my mouth. I stand here, a believer in the sea and the wind, my palms stretched into the void, my eyes lifted up into the dark sky, and I pray with a voice loud as an elephant’s trumpet: Ifá Olóòkun asòròdayò, let water marry air for my sake. Let the current work in my favor. Let the raft of my destiny be sailed forward on this unpredictable sea of life. Let the ancestors be reborn in me. Let me bring glory to our name again. Orison from My Ancestor “For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:”- Acts 2:25 And in this poem, who is the Lord but the ghost of my grandfather? There he is, singing me a dove— my Lord’s voice the tranquil of a young day. My heart’s David in awe of his matchless wisdom— my Lord, bone in the soil but alive in me. I dream. In my dream, Òsanyìngbèmí blesses me with the blessing of the sky. He presses a thumb into my forehead, anoints me with red oil and my calabash overflows. He says in the language of a chant: Wide as the firmament, may you be wide as the firmament. Traverse your sky, may all their birds not traverse your sky. May your secrets be known only to Òsà òkè*. May the eared wall be deaf on the day liquor leads you into loquacity. He lifts his thumb, places his palm upon my head and again he says: Let the vault of your heavens be impenetrable. Let them dig into your earth but find nothing. Hear, ye wizards of his home, give heed, ye witches of his descent, Kóláwolé has become the bottled grain. The fowl of your ploy will stare and admire, but its beak shall not dance into his polished seeds. And you, Kólá, may you sing their mockery in the day and may the night gather them into shame. Let them be blessed, who bless you. And for those cursers, I say: lálá tó ròkè, ilè ní n bò/ and all that is thrown up will return to earth./ àsàsí padà sórí alásàsí/ their imprecation boomerangs— a malevolent ricochet./ *In Yorùbá spirituality, Òsà òkè is a word for the deity that is God.
About the Author
Kolawole Samuel Adebayo is a Nigerian poet with works published in Button Poetry, Glass Poetry, The Hellebore Press, and elsewhere. He won first place in the January 2020 edition of the Shuzia Creative Writing Contest. He was a semi-finalist in the 2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize. He was a longlistee in the 2021 Castello di Duino International Poetry and Theater Competition. His chapbook manuscript, INVOCATIONS, was recently selected by Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes for the APBF New-Generation African Poets Chapbook Box-set Series (Akashic Books, 2021). He currently lives in Akure, Ondo State.