Jen Soriano

The Vigil for Omelas

A Cento in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin

I heard this story.
a playwright is elected president.⁠
he went looking for a road
night falls.
The rainbow people pass him
so long a silence
They pick up his tears.

like salt on a dry ground
I started sticking a piece of paper with the number
grieving over names.
here’s where the enemy killed the friend
peculiar patchwork
taken and broken
Exile is also a soft word.

soft hills above a purple sea
the upward spiral song
a wind sound, a shell murmur
cracks the cups of twilight by the house
wild oats and poppies come up pure gold
imagination is the instrument
I cannot describe it at all.

There is a room.
There is a shadow.
In the room a child is sitting.
The day’s count of the dead, in the window.
I beg you to see what it is we must save
reflections, labyrinths, forking paths
We need writers who can remember freedom

We live capitalism, its power seems inescapable—so the divine right of kings
from land to land the dry wind blows
graves in the rock, cradles in the sand
The bringing of light is no simple matter.
hard times are coming
all smiles have become archaic
The offering of flowers is a work of Generations

to flower in a dark country—
terrible paradox.
a dark government. circles of burning flames.
a difference between the circle and the spiral:
the circle is open.
a surprise, a mystery
I have no idea who we will be

who are the people coming with torches, singing⁠?
not from above, but from below where human beings grow human souls⁠4
because they are beautiful, because they are nourishing
they keep walking
singing in the morning
experts in illumination, engineers of radiance
I cannot describe it at all

Sources (all by Ursula K. Le Guin):
A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
A Left-Handed Commencement Address
Margaret Atwood: The Year of the Flood
A Response, by Ansible, from Tau Ceti
Some Assumptions About Fantasy
In the Third Year of the War
From the Tent on the Volcano
“Things Not Actually Present”
The Operating Instructions
The Vigil for Ben Linder
A Measure of Desolation
The Elders at the Falls
What it Was Like
Every Land
For Judith
This Stone