Beneath the Ogan Tree

In Abomey, Benin
West Africa

women and men
boys and girls
brilliantly colored cloths
trimming strong legs
with dancing brown feet
delicately stomping out
the syncopated rhythms
of the jimbe
massaging the red sandy
earthen floors
swept smooth for
the king’s processional
singing praises
to the ancestors
and his royal highness
kissing the sacred earth
before the makeshift throne
graceful eldresses
moving like palm trees
under a gentle breeze
chanting lips
bursting with praises
peculiar sounds
echoing beyond the compound
announcing the gathering
of lost family from afar
welcomed by the king
and his court
beneath the shady arms
of the Ogan tree.

By Larry H. Spruill