How I connect to “When I Spoke With Obatala”

I connect with this piece, specifically, for a lot of reasons. This piece revolves around a conversation from a grandfather to a grandson – that conversation, while important and logical – has lots of emotional ties as well. The grandfather utilizes metaphor in order to communicate not only his deep love for his grandson, but his wanting to pass on knowledge himself. I think these lines dictate everything:

“You are my blood, an extension/of my old life.”

The extension of an old life is something important for generations of families. In this moment, the grandfather was in such a tender moment with his grandson to reveal something like that. In my current point of life, I mainly live with my grandfather. I have experienced my fair share of lectures and tips on how to live a full life – as most grandparents give to their children – but the vulnerability of this specific grandfather strikes a different chord in my own relationship with my grandparents, giving way to an upheave of emotions I have yet to even comprehend. It is these complex emotions that initially got me interested in the piece and I hope to dive deeper into the study of these emotions and see what I can get out of it.

This poem, however, goes farther than just a grandfather talking to his grandson. This poem, hidden underneath the emotional conversation, houses themes such as loss and life; sorrow, and joy; pulling up, and bringing down. These themes have much more than meets the eye – they are the backbone of what’s actually making the poem emotional for the reader. This poem is about a tender moment between a grandson and a grandfather, yes, but this courageous work also lets the reader connect to moments that they themselves have experienced, thus making the poem so much more impactful.

“Every breath that you take/has a purpose.”

These two lines let the grandson know that he matters. That he has a purpose. That he isn’t a meaningless speck in the great universe – he means something. This specific phrase is something that so many people need to hear for themselves. It is important, it is necessary, and it helps the poem achieve even more intellectual integrity than it has already.

I connected with this poem because of my relationship with my own grandfather, but I stayed because of the deeper meanings it has layered underneath the heart-blistering conversation. I hope more people read this poem and think, for themselves, “What can I do to better myself? How can I continue the legacies those before me have worked so hard to build?”

Jasper Darnell, Junior Layout and Design Editor