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Sacrament 1

by Chris Abani

Have you heard of the oracle of the Igbo?

The one called Chukwu? Just one word: God.

The oracle of God.

The voice of God.

The final arbitration.

Kpom kwem.

Deep in a grove of trees, the sacred lake,

and rising in the gloom and heat,

mist, the very breath of divinity.

The unbearable trepidation,

the worship, the sheer terror and earnestness

trembling the supplicants. And the priests

sitting on rocks and in trees on haunches,

silent like vultures or Rilke’s unspeakable angels.

And then a pilgrim wades cautiously into the lake.

On the shore, the line of unannointed

shivers in a shared awe.

And if the petitioner is beautiful or strong,

the priests hold her under, then shackled,

for slavers. In the lake, red dye bubbles up

as God smacks his lips.

And that endless line of believers near faint

with the fearsome beauty of the thought:

Please consume me, God.

Consume me and find me worthy.

But don’t let me die.

from SanctificumFind it in the library

Copyright 2010 Chris Abani
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Chris Abani Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.