Monday, January 19, 2015
OEDIPUS REX: POEM BY ROTIMI BABATUNDE-PUBLISHED IN A THOUSAND VOICES RISING
Oedipus Rex: The Comedy
Once upon a time
swirled like an iron vortex
as it chased around a narrowing spire
But Curiosity, the cat-killer, also swirling
was stretching for the cat’s tail
was looping around the vortex
tightening like a noose.
A requiem for the strangled cat,
(For dawn hangs nude the buried wombs,
the broods of gall and – ah! – screaming wounds).
Was I Medusa?
Was I Medusa reaching for a mirror?
But once upon a night
I was the billy goat humping my mum’s rump, our mum’s.
Until dawn dropped down – a conjurer from the east –
Scooped up the night with his hat of rays.
From it the goat jumped out a man – I.
So I was Orion.
I was Orion in night’s woods hunting for dawn.
The goat was the father of the man.
The man will be father of the god.
(For nine lives the cat has,
Nine stairs soaring to the stars.)
Have, child, this sacrament – my outplucked eyes.
Use them as spectacles in my memory.
Rotimi Babatunde (Winner of 2012 Caine Prize)
This poem was first published in Nigerians Talk.