I used to play in the high school band!
From an early age, I "pretended" to play
tin drums, trash cans
anything I could pound on,
even my younger brother's head
(when I could get away with it)
There was a deep passion for this
instrument and the act of banging on it...
was probably deeply based in my African roots
( you know, the ones I pretend to have.)
Never had the beautiful six piece
every kid dreams of owning,
parents wouldn't have the noise.
So in 7th grade I found myself
in the percussion section
at Hermantown High!
(yes, I said, Hermantown)
Some prior instruction would have been
by me, by my fellow band mates,
by the teacher.
Turns out when they pass out
the "being able to dance gift"
the "drumming gift" is also included as a bonus
(and there are probably others
in this package deal, that I haven't yet
discovered, but I am sure I will)
I had NO rhythm...
None, zero, zilch, nata!
All eyes on me, when the cymbol finale
failed to hit the right note,
time and time again.
But I pretended and pretended
I wasn't actually, "rhythm challenged"
The instructor didn't like me
and frankly had no business teaching kids.
Mean! Mean! Mean!
So much so, everyone
was too afraid to quit.
Even had to do the marching band thing,
which is sort of like dancing
while banging something,
that was REALLY sad!
Finally, when there
was a overlap in my class
schedule, I was able to escape...
Mean Mr. Band Leader and the pretense
of being able to play!
A long time collector of African drums
(again, due to my African heritage)
it seemed, they were to be admired not
Cause, it was clear I couldn't!
In my living room, under a layer
of embarrasing dust were two books
given to me, six years ago,
along with a beautiful African Djembe drum
(which I had at least, lovingly kept dust free)
Gifts from a significantly wise friend.
One book was "how to play"
the other all about the "healing power" of the drum!
I decided not to muddle thru learning the specifics
(feeling Mean Mr. Band Man's presence)
and instead, discovered
a new and rich language
one without words...
like a heart beat.
...my heart beat..
all heart beats.
Began, by thinking of an emotion
and magic happened
my fingers spoke and moved and created
but in pure sound,
poetic, spiritual, ancestrol, primal,
The voice of African gods and
anyone else who came before me
and who had beat on a drum
and found their voice,
their heart beat,
the one that simply says, "I am!"
Don't know that I will ever
pick up the "how to play" book,
but for now drumming has become a part
of my morning ritual...
my dawn song!
(thinking my neighbors
aren't too happy about this...
but what can they expect?
They are, after all
living next to a "rhythm challenged"