May 20 ’97

I adore children
for doing one thing
adults cannot do—
play in the shadow
laugh ring a rosy
as the earth splits
beneath them, their
smiles their bridge
across the abyss.

KICK DRUM

when I think of the kick
drum, I hear a funeral
in a foreign land.
mourners dressed in
exotic imagined raiment
march to a small orchestra
of flutes, guitars and one old
drum, strung with rope, hung
from an old and fading leather
strap. It is beat with a mallet
and the beat goes like this:
boomph, boomph, boomph, boomph.
the mourners dance short shuffling
steps, slow and full of langourous
dignity, the feet, heels, toes
touch, tap, step in intricate
rhythms traced ‘cross cobble
stones, braced between white washed
walls. Shadows become vivid veils.
Women’s feet, brown and hard, shine
twined with flowers, beads or bells
about their ankles,
and the beat goes like this:
boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp.
The guitars strum a wirey rhythm
that buzzes and tinkles against
a lone bone flute
that skirls from bier
to azure rung mountain sky.
The sun pulses
in a frozen blue heaven
and the beat goes like this:
boomph, boomph, boomph, boomph.
The beat binds each one
to their souls through their feet,
it passes into
the cobblestones and defines
the street and the name
of the street and the name
of the place and the fact
of its existence
and the ceremony is one
with its creators’ intentions.
Now a funny thing happens
within my poem—the beat of the drum
changes and it sounds like this:
bomp, bomp, bomp, bomp, bomp, bomp.
Faster, stronger, vital, more
insistent. My imagination provides
something for me: a riddle,
a reason, a moral.
I see feet fly faster,
faster, the funeral marchers
dance feathered, jewelled, fantastic
and the drum beats faster, louder:
bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom
I see mourners laugh and raise
their skirts above their knees,
men push their hats over their
brow, wiggle their elbows, do
the chicken walk, laugh,
and I know it is the sound
of the drum that makes them
dance, the kick is the heart
of the procession, the pulse
that drives blood to love or war
and my heart sings a simple song;
my imagination provides a drum
a reason, to beat upon, to march to,
a kick that beats like this:
bombomph, bombomph, bombomph, bombomph.

Advertisements