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Tie your heart at night to mine, love…
like twin drums beating in the forest
against the heavy wall of wet leaves
– Pablo Neruda

Bongos, tombas, chimes; rhythm, not rhythm,
but agreement. The circle is a threshold,
the circle is a wish, the circle is a beloved
conversation. And the wider it becomes
the quieter the world. That woman dancing −
her long skirt a sermon − she moves like a tree,
she is dancing like a tree, she is dancing
with assertion, throwing off her loss.
The hills speak green, the birds sing. Someone’s life
becomes a table filled with friends,
someone’s death – easier, and the children
join the circle, the children are cymbals, they are bells.
That baby, not yet one, her body is a wave,
her legs are springs. She claps because she must,
And the message is folk, and the message is blues,
here, there is no news, only drums chanting holy,
wholly in sync – these strangers, utterly distinct,
their dreadlocks and golf shirts, the hungry and the satisfied,
the gray-haired man, his gray-haired son, they drum,
widow with her eyes closed, those taking pictures
and those with dogs. Everyone drumming, fingers, hands,
throat, skin, fingers, bear witness to the drums,
pulsing, pulsing, praying.


Joy Gaines-Friedler’s work is widely published. She is the author of two full-length collections of poetry and is featured in national anthologies including The Bloomsbury Anthology of Jewish American Poetry. Joy teaches poetry for “at risk” communities.

© 2015, Joy Gaines-Friedler

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