A Poem or Song for the Lwa, Papa Legba.

This morning, after bidding good day to the goddesses and lwa, I felt an itch to do something. I didn’t really know what it was at first. I think it took me a bit to realize what it was because I haven’t had this kind of need to do something along these lines in years. And you know what it was? It was the intense need to write something [for/to Papa Legba].

I assume that this came about because it is Friday, which is the day that I chose to serve him. (I was unaware that it was also the Ghede’s day of Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App worship, so I’ll have to start thinking about adding Papa in with Papa.) As it was, I hadn’t really figured out what exactly I was going to do for him today. I’m a firm believer in throwing shit together last minute because it tends to come out better. (I find this amusing, considering I’m a complete control freak in every aspect of my life except for this.) Anyway, the point is that I grabbed a notebook and started doodling away. The completely horrendous product, with all its scribbles and cross-outs, lays beneath his box of keys and pennies. For posterity, I decided to add my attempt into this blog.

Fetid earth and cloying mists
All pervasive through the night
A darkened crossroads in the distance
And the bats take flight

An old man waits at the crossroads
Shabby in look, but fleet of mind
His straw bag is full of such heavy loads
And he hunches over an interesting find…

He’s old and toothless; a grin splits his face
All around him, keys litter the ground
When he walks, he keeps it at a jilting pace
The crutch he uses resting against the mound

Far in the distance lies the gate he protects
The lands of decisions permeated with fear
He sits in the center of the road that bisects
And he beckons for you to draw near

“It is I, Papa Legba,” he says
“The Keeper of the Gate and the Great Unknown
“A jokester am I—making lives quite the mess
“It is what is needed, for your instincts to hone.”

“I worry so,” you reply, “about so many things.”
“Fear pervades all that I do and no decisions are made.
“Lucky for us,” he replies, “that you are not of kings,
“Or else, all that is yours would most surely fade.”

His steps are halting on the rut path
As he leads you towards your fate
He walks you by fear, sadness, and wrath
And says, “Always this was to happen, though a little late.”

The door draws ever near and there’s no turning back.
The midnight moon looks down as witness on the rite.
The rattle of his earthly possessions in his little sack.
And you draw inexplicably nearer born on Legba’s might.

The gate is old, unadorned, and easily forgotten
Nothing makes it remarkable, and yet…
Around you the wind rises to a maddening din
The gate opens and your fate has been met.

I think it’s a little off on the beat, especially since I decided to rhyme every other line. And let me tell you, I had no idea I could even still do that. But, as I said, this is my first attempt at poetry or prose or song or whatever this is in a very long time. I think it’s time that I start writing these things on a regular basis and not just for the lwa. May-hap, a goddess will receive an ode some time soon…

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10 thoughts on “A Poem or Song for the Lwa, Papa Legba.

  1. Never heard Friday for Ghede, but everyone will tell you something different. Saturday is the day we serve the Ghede because of Baron Samedi very name- Samedi is French for Saturday, and that just seems like common sense. Give the Lwa different days for service, or you might find things get mucky and the Lwa might even fight with one another.

    • That’s the problem I am always running into: everyone will tell you different. I can’t tell you how many different combinations of colors for Legba I’ve come across.

      And Saturday for Ghede it is then!

      • Colors for Legba? I’ve never seen anything but black and red (and sometimes white, to represent the Rada Lwa) for him. He’s the one consistent fellow with colors, at least as far as I’ve seen. Ellegua too, his eleke is red and black. He and Ghede are pretty consistent- Ghede is purple, white and black traditionally.

        What colors are they saying for Legba that aren’t red and black?!

        • Yellow, blue, purple, and brown were the colors. I’ve heard red and black. Some people say that it’s just two colors and other people say there’s a tertiary color in the mix.

          The conflicting reports, I think, are the hardest thing about serving.

  2. Well, in several years of study and research, I can safely say I’ve NEVER see yellow, blue, purple or brown used to serve him. I might give them brown for coffee, but it’s not one of his colors. Red and black is what his altar is in every shop and every home I’ve been into. Certainly not yellow, yellow is Oshun in Santeria, no one yellow comes to mind in Vodou. Blue can be Erzulie Dantor if dark, Erzulie Freda if light, Yemaya, La Sirene as the color of the sea. Purple is Ghede and sometimes Oya, though usually she’s more of a wine purple than a royal purple. Never seen purple for ANYONE else, it’s almost 100% exclusively the Ghede’s color.

    Rada Lwa are represented in white, Petro in red, I’ve not seen what Kongo or Nago’s colors are, and then Ghede nation in Black, white and purple. So usually if someone is a Rada, you can safely serve them in white, same with Petro and service in red.

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