She doesn’t understand their language,
so they dance
in naked feet and leather boots,
hooded and robed, in cotton shirts
or bare-chested, with fire sticks
and petals on their faces.
Alone, in packs of five or six,
like the wings of rock doves,
dancing poetry in the world of acts.
And it may be that once she did understand.
Eons past, our guttural sounds had sense:
she formed our throats, whittled bone,
the small muscles of our voices /
but time passed.
She lost interest.
So now they jig-step like jesters
at the heart and edges of power,
on the all-consuming
blind and toothless crone.
with a finger,
they inscribe on her broad, flat palm
the word for water.