A chance meeting – via the ubiquity of the internet – with Yousef Komunyakaa’s poem ‘Ode to The Drum‘ left an indelible mark on me.
The sheer beauty of the lines, rich imagery that harks back to a time of hunting for sustenance in Africa and the ritual of drum making are things that I have never been able to forget. In the poem a hunter kills a gazelle, skins it, and uses its skin for a drum. The hunter maintains an ongoing monologue, almost apologetically stating the case for killing the gazelle. There is meat, and the need to drive trouble from the valley via the beating of a drum. In the process of creating a drum, the gazelle is reborn – from dead weight slouching in the grassy hush to a drum beat filling the valley and exorcising evil. This, to me, is the under-girding theme – transformation; from evil to good, from death to a different sort of life. As the year 2010 wraps up, perhaps the closing lines are apt..
Now I have beaten a song back into you
Rise and walk away, like a panther.
May 2011 be a year to be re-born indeed.