the bride has been beside herself
with expectation and a pout
straightening her ivory laces
again, pondering, on end,
“where is the ọkọ ìyàwó?”
the enigmatic ọkọ ìyàwó.
or so the bride swears:
plying us with tales
of his playful wit
following spectacular shows
of bravery and softness. but,
where is this ọkọ ìyàwó?
the bride has made a stew
of green vegetables, fierce red
crayfishes, a number of peppered
African Giant snails, dices of plush
cowhide, and kind chunks of cattle tripe
with yam pounded with fierce gentleness,
not waiting for the gifts of live goat and palm oil,
the tubers of yam that her in-laws will bring. so,
where is her ọkọ ìyàwó?
do i hear drums?
aren’t those excited cries
ṣé dáadáa lẹ dé,
a tí ń retí yín”
hmm, ọkọ ìyàwójídé
(the cock’s crow bears witness!)
to take our bride at last.
they call to Ṣàngó, for fire and thunder,
singing odes of Yemọja set to the raging blue-eyed sea.
they dance, to rhythms for ànjọ̀nús not born, for the sake of the unborn.
they have cried to Ọ̀rúnmìlà
and gone to beg Ọ̀shun for favours.
why do they not seek Olódùmarè Himself
who breathes powers that Ọbàtálá could not boast?
they bring rum and a he-goat to Ògún Shibirikí,
palm oil and a cock for Èṣù Láàlú.
but what do they come to? Ọlọ́run Ọba asks only one thing,
(unshed) blood of ènìyàn, (beating) hearts of said men.
i will have none of Ògún
who needs spears and guns to save me
nor do i want Ṣàngó who may be shamed
by Yemọja or YèyéỌ̀shun.
my song will be for Olódùmarè alone.
it is He i will give my life, to keep my soul.
i am cubano.
my great grandpapa Baba Casamayo
lived by the Ifá-given words of Orúnmila;
his mother adorned La Virgen de La Caridad y Ochún and Yemayá.
these, Grandpapa Jorge tells with his santiagüerro
accent, dramatic face, and ergo
over his evening rum with waffs of his cigar’s
smoke lending life in whispers
to tales of a revered Changó
while Mama fries bananas to snack with our jugo
naturales. Papa would cut in with the clave,
Cousin Manuel with the conga and our hips soon gave way
to son, and then rumba, all before la cena. Si, SeñoraySeñor, soy cubano.
it is a dark night
with the stars in exile;
vultures are here
to bury the dead
and bear their offering,
of cabra, to the gods.
is Changó ‘wake from his slumber?
will Ochún rouse to grant their wishes?
it is a dark night
and the ochás sleep