From Darkness into Light

by Romeo Oriogun

Once, at night, I saw the world collapsing
into a song, a man who has known loneliness
throughout the day was summoning all the voices
left outside doors to his side, his flute said:
God, do not begrudge me this hour of creation.
And God replied – there is nothing to begrudge,
for I was once lonely, staring at the darkness
of holiness and I said, let there be light,
for I, too, was afraid of meeting my emptiness
in the dark. I told this to the Reverend who was called
to pray for me, once after my stomach was pumped
and the drugs gone from my system, once after
I listened to a dying cockerel and asked my mother,
what lushness has death seen, what beauty hides
in its body that it invites the world screaming into every house,
you must come into where the waters have been,
you must see the flowers, the swifts, the lizards, all bowing
and praising, all saying, it is through the earth
we become saved. And the Reverend said, you must be a savant,
not a poet, for who without school can sing the world
into verse? I have said nothing of this exchange, not to my lover
who once over wine asked me, when did you become
a poet? Not to my mother who said, do not choose to suffer.
Although once, beside a river where goats come to drink,
I said to the wild, it is only fair that those who hunger must cry,
it is only fair that those who the world has shaped
into pain must begin to cry into song. And the wild replied,
you must not seek for understanding, your language is extinct,
a dead thing wandering at the boundary of darkness, you must
hold it and shout, for only language can begin the restoration
of those pushed out of history. I have been shouting into light.

Read Seán Hewitt’s ‘In Front of the Poem’ essay on Romeo Oriogun’s poem ‘From Darkness Into Light’