March 30, 2014

Jongo by Neil Leadbeater

Goes back a long way. Was Semba or Masemba in a distant African past.
Those old Angolan guessing games, the Jinongonongo
alive in the Vale do Paraíba: that rich metaphor
revering an ancestry of magic, movement and music
the circular dance with the couple in the middle
instruments tuned by fire
and the jongueiros beating out a rhythm
on loud Caxambu drums. When they caught
your eye and saw your soul
they took it out of the skin of your body and gave it a ritual shaking.
You watched it spinning out in the open
whole and frail like anaemic jelly
that never lost its shape
until they returned it from where they had taken it
letting it loose into the folds of your body
so that when you left you were no longer scared
but a person as whole as you will ever be
this side of heaven.

Neil Leadbeater is an editor, author, essayist, poet and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His short stories, essays, articles and poems have been published widely. His most recent books are Librettos for the Black Madonna published by White Adder Press, Scotland (2011) and The Worcester Fragments published by Original Plus, England (2013). His work has been translated into Spanish and Romanian.

No comments:

Post a Comment