Laughing Woman’s Drum

All over God’s green earth
Hardware stores open at seven or eight o’clock
While here in Woodstock, New York
I’m sitting – waiting – for coffee at Misty’s
Waiting for Alan to meet me at 8 on the village green
But most of all – waiting for the hardware store to open at 9
So I can buy some sand paper
To polish the floors of a house just bought by a family
To make a home for another family
Of five children and the Grandmother
The mother having been killed by a bullet
That was just passing through a Brooklyn Street
A black African-American family
I’ve only met the 12 year old daughter
A lovely child
She’s about five foot eleven tall
She could easily be groomed for high fashion modeling or even low fashion modeling
Physically she’s more mature than most women ever are
Her pure African genes hasten her maturity
They tell her “Get your children raised up
Before a bullet comes down the street
and takes momma away.”
But bullets are new things
And the African genetic truth is old
Like the short Ashanga spear
And the fly
The ages of struggle are not forgotten by the blood nor are they entirely past
In this land of the broken
But now let a wind blow the fly away
from our village
And the short spear not reach from the bush
Let us make a village
On this killing plain
Where the millet is sweet to her taste
And the husks are pounded from the kernel
As a drum play for her song
May the wind blow away the fly
And the short spears remain in the bush
May the singing woman live long seasons as a child
And long as a woman slowly opening
Let the husks of the millet
Open to her song
While singing woman’s pounding pole drums playfully
Against the edge of the mortar bole
Let us lace a drum skin
Across the mortar bole
And everyone dances as the millet opens
A long season of dancing
A long season of drumming
As a child, as a woman
Here in the village on the plain
Here on the streets of Brooklyn
A new season opens
The coffee arrives
Alan arrives
The Hardware store opens
We go to sand
And polish the floors
A plain of red oak
Nearer to Brooklyn than Africa
But far enough, we ask, from the fly,
the short spear,
And the bullet.