Rhythm Method

Rhythm Method

by Yusef Komunyakaa

If you were sealed inside a box
within a box deep in a forest,
with no birdsongs, no crickets
rubbing legs together, no leaves
letting go of mottled branches,
you'd still hear the rhythm
of your heart. A red tide
of beached fish oscillates in sand,
copulating beneath a full moon,
& we can call this the first
rhythm because sex is what
nudged the tongue awake
& taught the hand to hit
drums & embrace reed flutes
before they were worked
from wood & myth. Up
& down, in & out, the piston
drives a dream home. Water
drips til it sculpts a cup
into a slab of stone.
At first, no bigger
than a thimble, it holds
joy, but grows to measure
the rhythm of loneliness
that melts sugar in tea.
There's a season for snakes
to shed rainbows on the grass,
for locust to chant out of the dunghill.
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, oh yes
is a confirmation the skin
sings to hands. The Mantra
of spring rain opens the rose
& spider lily into shadow,
& someone plays the bones
til they rise & live
again. We know the whole weight
depends on small silences
we fit ourselves into.
High heels at daybreak
is the saddest refrain.
If you can see blues
in the ocean, light & dark
can feel worms ease through
a subterranean path
beneath each footstep,
Baby, you got rhythm.

[copyright Yusef Komunyakaa via IPA]

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