It was not the green of trees that welcomed
me to spring. It was not the resurrection
of dead fields that showed me that the way
through life could be green and tender.
It was a little dog, a terrier mix, running
around the park, yelping into the nothingness
of air, daring even God to stop her. I stood
for minutes outside the fence, watching her,
wondering about my life. In the Midwest
of America I have become domesticated
against the beauty of rainforests. Everything
has slowed down. The antelopes in my dreams
have stopped gliding over fallen logs, instead
they are strolling through the grasses, kept
out of the wild by a row of wooden fences
like I have been kept out of my country.
Is the end of my life the slowness of wonder?
I have forgotten the colony of bees,
I have forgotten the wild goats
chasing me on broken bridges as I ran
to drink sugar filled coffee in roadside kiosks.
It is a thing of terror to stare into the lights
of your past, to fall to the ground, a broken being
trying to root his belonging into the depth
of a new world, becoming like a little dog
waiting for its first rain, starring at the clouds
with no knowledge of what it feels like
to surrender fear to the solitude of rainfall.
Romeo Oriogun is a Nigerian poet whose poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Nation, Poetry, and other journals. A winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature and the Poetry Society of America Fay Di Castagnola Prize, he lives in Ames where he works as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Iowa State University.