Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Elegy for Ikeogu Oke

Always the relentless tide comes in.
Sometimes it snatches a child.
Sometimes an adolescent is held in its suck.
Sometimes it takes the infirm
waiting silently on the beach in hope of release.
Always it sucks back, carrying them out
into the vast, dark wasteland,
a region beyond the sight of the living
who play in the sun in the knowledge
that one day a wave will roll in for them.

Sometimes it comes for one such as you,
someone in the prime of life,
someone garlanded with deserved honours,
someone with a wife and young children,
someone with a mind clear and deep
and crackling with ideas
and in whom adversity and courage
had forged a character bold, truthful
and uncompromisingly upright.

Then our tears must flow.
Our hearts must mourn.
In our spirit we groan and sigh.
We wear the heavy mantle grief.
We stand and gaze out to sea.
But we cannot seek there forever.
The living will return to life,
to joy, to celebration, to love,
to songs celebrating our brief moments
in the wonder of the world.

In my song of living I will make praise for you.
I will celebrate that I have known you.
I will rejoice in your life.
I will rejoice in The Heresaid,
your masterwork that for years
you honed and polished into perfection
with no knowledge of the honours it would bring.
I will rejoice that our minds met
and our friendship flourished.

You have gone and yet you still are with us.
You have not drifted anonymously away.
You have touched hearts.
You will touch hearts yet to be born.
Your legacy is not just your work.
You have left a reminder of what
we flawed humans can be.
I want to take your diligence, your honesty,
your uncompromising adherence
to the search for truth,
your generosity,
your belief in justice and equity,
your love of creative endeavour
and your ceaseless search for its perfection,
yes, take them and desire that they live in me
as a continual reminder of you,
you, who it was my privilege to know,
you, who I celebrate,
you, who I praise,
you, whose name I say,
Ikeogu Oke,
great poet,
clear thinker,
wonderful man,
dear friend,
now gone
too young.

Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama has made him intensely aware of how opportunity is unequally proportioned. His work reflects strong interest in social justice, indigenous issues, the environment and relationships. His poetry has appeared in many places, both online and in hard-copy, including Autumn Sky Daily, Praxis Mag Online, Anti-Heroin Chic, Peacock Journal, The Blue Nib and One Sentence Poems. He is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual and his chapbook, Earth Music, has been accepted for publication by Praxis Magazine Online in 2019-2020.

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