The Piano and Drums by Gabriel Okara

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 panther snarling about to leap

8 and the hunters crunched with spears poised;

And my blood ripples, turns torrent,

topple the years and at once I’m

in my mother’s laps a suckling;

at once I’m walking simple

paths with no innovations,

rugged, fashioned with the naked

warmth of hurrying feet and groping hearts

16 in green leaves and wild flowers pulsing.


Then I hear a wailing piano

Solo speaking of complex ways

in tear-furrowed concerts

on far away lands

and new horizons with

coaxing diminuendo, counterpoint,

crescendo. But lost in the labyrinth of its complexities,

it ends in the middle

25 of a phrase at a dagger point.


And I lost in the morning mist

of an age at a riverside keep

wandering in the mystic rhythm

29 of jungle drums and the concerto.

 – The Piano and Drums by Gabriel Okara

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