A poem by Oluwatomisin Oredein
She didn’t want wilderness to be this spirited thing.
No, she was too wise for that, too aware of the fact
that wilderness doesn’t fit where you want it to.
It just is, in whatever form it wants to take.
And you just survive it, and preach about it to whoever will listen.
Yes, wilderness is both text and sermon both seen and told,
both known and unknown in very tangible ways.
It is escaped and permanent, temporary and perpetual.
It is love and lost, created and creator.
It makes moods for you
and places them in your mouth
in song, shout, scream or proclamation.
It makes you miss it because there, you learned something –
There, an antiquated version of yourself lives…
and wants you to talk to her in ghost-chatter.
In it you are informed of who you’re really supposed to be.
You are reminded that ghosts are ghosts for a reason.
Talk with them, but do not be too hospitable.
There is no hosting in the wilderness – it is purely pathway to home.
It imprints your wounds into its history, it hurts you just enough
for you to seek the healing you’ve been avoiding.
It is charming and mischievous –
somehow able to bring something out of you
you never knew was missing.
It is conjurer.
It is priestess partnering earth and wind and water
to create the belief of life elsewhere, but only known elsewhere – there.
She holds answers, moods, meaning.
She confuses category and occupies sense and function differently.
She does not want your categories.
She does not want to be understood how other things are.
She is not a thing. She is a movement. She is an encounter.
She has tongue and heart and ears and tells you, shows you, so.
She is attuned to the journey she assigns you.
In knowing you, she is knowing herself.
She holds the markings of touch.
She is overgrown with meeting, allowing, mending.
She is overgrown, so we consider her dangerous.
She is too big, so we hate her.
Her horizons are where we think the problem is
instead of thinking the devil as such.
Because she does in fact host demon and Divinity.
it is not your place to host ghost-selves, here.
You don’t host in places that you are passing through.
You don’t show hospitality in places
where you barely recognize yourself.
Learn to recognize yourself first – your real self.
Live in the wilderness. Let her summon who you are,
not who you thought you were or want to be, but who you are now.
The wilderness is quite self-aware – she only deals in the present.
If you are not careful, you will miss who she is trying to show you.
She might only show you once, all at once –
and you don’t want to spend a lifetime knowing your wrong self.
I think it best that you go to her – tell her what you need.
And pray that what she returns to you, what she returns you as
exceeds what it is that you thought you wanted.
Learn this new language of your life,
Of your required living.
Learn your first lessons in wanting something different.
Let her confuse away your certainties.
Let her confirm that which she has already told:
Feature image of Monument Valley, Utah by Huebi via WikimediaCommons, CC by 2.0