The Music of Osun

                        after the painting by Arianne King Comer

Arianne’s in the parking lot on the edge
of the Gullah Festival, helping white-haired
ladies imprint their own patterns for scarves—
her blue the color of their childhood lips
when they emerged from a Michigan lake
or walked along Kennesaw River
or the wind blew through their years
along the North Way.

                                         Arianne’s long braids
dangle free, almost sweeping the wet indigo
pads. A gospel group on the Festival platform
sings, “We’re walkin’ in the light,/ Let the light
shine over the world,/ We’re walkin’ in the light.”

Inside De Aarts Ob We People exhibit,
I poke my head under Arianne’s Indigo
her splay of blues and greens, these colors
the hues of a people’s clasp in that other land.
Makeshift upper branches: skeletons of old umbrellas
draped with dyed fabrics. Even here under
fluorescents the cast shadows spell labor
and grief, the tints of joy, stories of fathers
taken away, the legends of indigo.

                                         Across the room, across
the sacred grove’s hardwood forest floor,
dyeing pots hidden by trees in Arianne’s
The Music of Osun, the Yoruba river goddess
with her eyes closed, her moon face risen
into the color of yams, a woman dancing,
her braids swinging free of Detroit, of history
untelling itself in the Sea Islands, before cotton,
sugar, tobacco,
                             Arianne dancing at the goddess’s edge,
on feathery tips of indigo, Oshogbo and Yoruba
the wind’s praise, fertile syllables, each morning
a lost princess rising from the water, brass bangles
along her arms, her fingers blue, Arianne singing.

John Allman | Mudlark No. 31
Contents | Moon