Heartbeats, Footfalls, and Pounding Waves

Let the drumbeats lead us to the sea-
In cool of dark and cover of blindness,
A mighty sun lashes vulnerable skin,
Foam churns the salivated-ocean
Sticky on the swollen shores
Tongues and gums and
Saltwater evaporations
Adhere the dry bed to sky
Out we must march!
In darkness, dark
Preserves our vulnerable
Sun-crisped skin
Where cold may bite,
And ice may burn,
But the drumbeats take us!

I had a mother once-
With soft flesh and ivory teeth
Singing dark songs,
Low melodic spirituals
Sundering soul from bone
Her hidden youth
Borne of blood and water and man
And the tigers’ heard her
Moonlit dirge, her mournful croon,
Her tigers’ blood pumping
Through a woman’s veins
They desired her with tooth and talons,
Mauled flesh and appetite,
And her spiritual wanders
Dry spaces, drumless paces-

But the drumbeats bear me away!
Steps and sounds mingling
Into body chanting
Pounding the ghosts from sand
To frighten what lurks
In outer darkness, lost rings
Surrounding the drums
We pound out rhythms,
Purpose, protection, toes in sand
Beating out a road to sea
Our stretched legs limber
Sinews like fingers
Stomping in strength
Answered by weakness, silence,
Pounding again in strength-

Beyond the drums the lightning flashes
Ivory teeth and slitted eyes
And my mother’s spirit
Hungry, angry, clicking teeth
I hear it beyond the drumbeats
But sun will scorch them
Drive us both to ground
We wait till darkness only falls,
The beats put distance between
Flash of tooth and sudden violence,
Retribution for the apostasy
Of being man,
Tameless, shameless man,
Of wandering arid spaces
Until the sea may save us!

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