Song for Yemaya

It took me two days to write a flower poem, though this is not my first attempt to use the meaning of flowers as the floor of a poem.  I was about ready to cheat and throw in an old favorite, but I woke this morning with a story on my mind.  It runs longer than most of my poetry and of course, it hasn’t had time to gel, or gestate in a drawer for several days.  But the children in my poem are raw little urchins and they insist of telling the story their way. So Be it! NapoWriMo prompt eleven, a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings..

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Flower Song

 

Bells ring citywide, overlapping

in circles of sound, while the noon whistle

at the canning factory on the coast

sends a shrill counterpoint soaring

above a thunderclap of wings

as pigeons rise and wheel en masse

above every plaza in town.

 

We dart from hiding places

between the narrow aisles

of the flower market, girls

pulling skirts into pouches,

boys stooping and grabbing

discarded blooms.

 

Loose petals, pink, peach, scarlet, yellow, white,

catch in curls, cling to sweaty skin, coat bare feet

in brilliant color.

 

A tiny sepulcher in a corner of the graveyard

offers shelter.  The mermaid with a split tail,

carved in stone above the doorway,

smiles welcome as we slip inside.

 

An unadorned tomb offers a tabletop

on which to sort our floral gleanings.

We divide them in piles– dahlias,

orchids, honeysuckle, morning glory

sunflowers, yucca blooms, datura

passion flowers and marigolds

 

The boys run into church and steal

holy water to refresh our blooms,

we say a prayer over each kind,

baptizing them with new names:

 

Adoration of the Mother of Fishes,

Daughter of Rivers,

Blessings of the Bee,

Divine Love,

Wild Porpoise of the Western Waves.

 

Twining them round ankles, wrists

and waists, we braid them in our hair,

crown ourselves with wreaths

and set out two by two for the sea.

 

The song we sing is old,

in language we do not understand,

but the chant entrances, snares

us in a waking dream of watery realms:

 

Yemaya assessu; Assessu Yemaya

Yemaya Olodo; Olodo Yemaya

 

The eyes of our feet

guide us safely

from asphalt, to dirt,

dirt to sand until

cold ocean waves

return us to ourselves.

 

Joyfully, we strip each other

of flowers, lay them gently

on the out-going tide,

sing them out to sea,

 

Waters laps our ankles,

as loving as a mother washing

the feet of her children

before kissing then goodnight.

 

Sand turns pink as sun’s red disk

melts swiftly into sea, each of us

reborn into radiance.

 

Green flash comes as Yemaya’s

final good night kiss.  Emblazoned

on each forehead, faint outline of a starfish

marks us Hers forever after.

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This entry was posted in Cultural icons, goddess, Myth, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, Ritual, Water, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Song for Yemaya

  1. msjadeli says:

    Such a beautiful song they sing and what a pleasant day they had.

    • The ceremony for Yemaya is a real thing – her song is in Yoruba. It’s very pretty, and haunting – easy to find on line. Women dress in white and bring mostly blue and white flowers and wade out into the ocean in their dresses to let their bouquets go. I don’t know if they still do this in Africa but women celebrate in Cuba and other Caribbean islands and along the Atlantic coast of South America. Hope you are doing well. NaPoWriMo is keeping me away from d’Verse though I check in to see what’s on tap. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Kelly Pena Weathers says:

    Yemaya, I sigh ah for the fragrant oriander, the pause to press petals on pulse points, tender thoughts linger.

    On Sun, Apr 12, 2020, 5:40 PM Mused by Magdalene wrote:

    > Christine Irving posted: “It took me two days to write a flower poem, > though this is not my first attempt to use the meaning of flowers as the > floor of a poem. I was about ready to cheat and throw in an old favorite, > but I woke this morning with a story on my mind. It runs longe” >

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