The drums beat low, channeling into the ground. It was like a heartbeat, only bigger than my own, and bigger than those of the crowd even if they were all synchronized.
The pulse moved like veins spreading just beneath the surface. The veins traveled outward under that grass, rushing toward receptive living things. Through my feet I felt it enter me, and my legs became like tree trunks newly rooted to the earth by this pulse—this energy. It was like foreign fingertips traveling up ankle, calf, and thigh, deeper and deeper into me. Foreign, but not unwelcome.
As a tree with roots that bound me to that place, I stood and watched. My hair blew like leaves on branches as the wind teased it before settling into its own spot for the show. The sun beat down on my face, avidly working to turn skin too pale from winter to something more respectable to the earth—a ruddy clay color. The sun, or maybe it was that scoundrel the wind, seemed to nudge the strap on my shoulder down. The shirt, although still held in place across the chest by breast and sweat, felt good falling partially away.
The Body Wanted To Be Free
There I stood, a tree within a forest, and all of us trees standing in a circle. In the empty center there was suddenly a flash of movement, and no longer emptiness. There was a glimmer of bare thigh as legs moved in an eccentric but familiar dance around that central area. Back and forth; forward and backward—like the seasons of the year, like birth, death, and sex.
Despite being a heterosexual woman, I’ve never really thought male parts looked all that good. Mountains, leaves, shells, the snaking nature of rivers and streams—all things beautiful have curves, like women. But there is a time and a place for all things. There is something really artful about a tall straight tree trunk or stalk of bamboo, uniquely strong in their straightness. Muscular thighs are their equivalent, and in this case were covered only with a vague bit of cloth. A flap of hide and a scattering of feathers disguised a bit of his chest, and it was all very barbaric.
Barbaric Like We Humans Are Supposed To Be
We are just mammals born in the nude, nursing our mothers like all the other mammals. But then we are dressed up and combed and hide ourselves away in all our intellect, but maybe we are also hiding ourselves away from god.
People find god in different places. Inside a church I sense him, but he is always out of reach. To me, he always seems to be sitting there silently in the woods. The song birds and the bobcat know him well. They flit by him carelessly because through all their wildness they already have him coursing through them. But we humans have to acquire him again.
I see him in the colors of the sunset around my garden. I feel the freshness of him when the tide comes in on the salt marsh. And, unexpectedly, I acquire him in the pulse of a drum.
The Man Danced On In His Dark Native Skin
His chiseled legs and chest moving as the feathered costume cast shadows in opposition to the blaring sun. The drum beat deeper and he seemed to dance faster, his hands moving swiftly to rearrange the fire on a small wooden ornament in the middle of our circle. The fingers moved too swift to be singed. With body in tune to that pulse, he was the best looking man in the world, being so full of nature.
On and on, and I could almost see the sweat dripping down him, the heavily exhaled breath, and those veins of energy that were just below the surface of the ground connected him to all of us trees standing in our circle. All of us in the same force field, all of us just animals, all of us connected to god.
Then the drum stopped. The cord was cut, once again. God slipped between my fingers.
So then I went to buy some kettle corn, because once the cord is cut a circle of trees turns back into a crowd of people. And they were all going to want that kettle corn. Better go buy it before it sells out.