sawdust and cigarette ash on the floor,
pair of hurricane lamps hanging from a rafter:
the only light in the place.
A three-piece band squeezed in the corner:
acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, drummer with a three-head kit.
Hazy tom-tom beat, the guitar soft, the strumming almost muffled,
as if it was hidden behind a scarf.
The singer’s voice: a hushed urgency. Graveyard voice.
The lanterns illuminate outlines of dancers, couples,
bodies in paired sighs and loose, free-bone weaves and dips:
women in light, summer dresses, men in white linens.
The same sense of hush to them,
and it goes on for hours
trees in gray fog: sweat, soul, shadow.
the dancers, simple beat, swishing of dress hem,
bare feet in floor dust. Ancient, practiced.
At the only table in the shed, a preacher:
Now, he rises, flings a prayer book at the door.
Someone undoes the latch, thrusts the door open:
gold-plated morning has come, and streamers of blue and pink.
Windows are opened.
The bass player picks up a trumpet, tilts his head back,
bleats glory and hallelujah and heads for the door.
The band, the dancers follow: conga march,
the slow and mysterious rhythms giving way to long strides and leaps.
The last of the dancers leaves the shed. The preacher
lights a wood match, tosses it into the sawdust.
Within moments: whole shed ablaze. Bloodish red within bottomless black.
A bus waits for them: dark-tinted windows,
chrome rims: band, dancers, the preacher
They fade in a shadow, a movie ending.
But under the sun, a cottontail
is chased by something long,
sliding slowly, quietly.
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