Piano and Drums: A Poem by Gabriel Okara

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Gabriel Okara: Piano and Drums

When at break of day at a riverside
I hear jungle drums telegraphing
the mystic rhythm, urgent, raw
like bleeding flesh, speaking of
primal youth and the beginning
I see the panther ready to pounce,
the leopard snarling about to leap
and the hunters crouch with
spears poised;

And my blood ripples, turns torrent,
topples the years and at once I’m
in my mother’s lap a suckling;
at once I’m walking simple
paths with no innovations,
rugged, fashioned with the naked
warmth of hurrying feet and
groping hearts
in green leaves and wild flowers pulsing

Then I hear a wailing piano
solo speaking of complex ways
in tear-furrowed concerto;
of far away lands
and new horizons with
coaxing diminuendo, counterpoint
crescendo. But lost in the labyrinth
of its complexities, it ends in the middle
of a phrase at a daggerpoint.

And I lost in the morning mist
of an age at a riverside keep
wandering in the mystic rhythm
of jungle drums and the concerto.

 

Photo by Lee Pigott on Unsplash

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