#BlaPoWriMo: Numbers (poem)

we count one to ten
in Swahili to the
pulse of djembe . . .

moja
mbili
tatu
nne

Our voices crescendo
like musical scales . . .

tano
sita
saba
nane

return to steady rhythm,
deep; rising, waiting
for final beat . . .

tisa

A slap of the palm at drum’s
center. A vibration lingers,
filling our ancestral void

kumi.

—Nortina


This poem is inspired by a Swahili numbers song I learned in summer camp when I was a kid. It’s hard to describe how the song goes without actually singing it, but think of it as a version of Do, Re, Mi that you can actually shake your hips too. And the drum beat went something like… BOO! ba, da, ba, da, BOO!

All those songs from summer camp are starting to come back . . .

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