The Holy Dance

Numbed by the drum and a chorus of voices

Come the pair to show off their act to the troupe.

Variations on a theme

From one foot to the other

And the flick of the hip decked with mulembo [1] ,


Or bambooed bottled tops [2] .


And the chorus clap.


And fweet

As they watch with delight this body-swaggering turn.


The wind blows the pennants all out of rhythm

But they make no disturbing sound.

Only the guy ropes slacked by the heat sigh irregularly,

Or the canvas smacks with a ripple of wind;

And the tweet of the bird or the creak of the bough

Go unnoticed.


For we are one in the dance

And what else matters.



April 1969

[1] A wrap around skirt

[2] A bamboo skirt with bottle tops as bells