Distant drums

Bart Wolffe


The force of it, irresistible, urgent, pulling

From within where I had forgotten my heart once pounded.

It is only the night sound of drums,

Down there in the valley and the voices bursting with exclamation.

It could be any language but it speaks of dancing fires

That make the deep shadows torture themselves

As they circle and rise and fall

Stamping the earth, imprints of before the missionary hymnals

Replaced the sweat, coming to me from below the surface,

And yet I know this is only schoolboys on the playing field

Raising a war cry to their team in the safety of floodlights,

Not the thudding assegai, not the African dust

Nor am I able to be drawn into that forbidding darkness

That once made my neck hairs stand like a warrior army

Ready for battle, nor will I go back but I cannot forget.

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