JIKINYA (DANCER) Poem by Musaemura Zimunya


She knew how to apply vaseline on a song
and made you understand that human souls
were not different from gangrene.
Then the human voice was worth all the birds
of the mountains:
anaesthetic, scalpel, antidote, and plaster of paris -
we were secure for an evening and more
and we would return at the exit of night
where dreams of Death reach us less.


Looking at you with male eyes
is like trying to catch fish in water
with greedy human fingers.

Allow us to stare boldly
with night-lighting stare eyes
and to heave with sea-depth sounding sighs
and swallow our throats at the speed
of chameleons snatching at little victims.

We have our tails up -
it is the pride of knowing we are not puppies
any more.


Do not look at the men returning from the men's
you might witness crocodile jaws
where once there were zip-fasteners.
We slip our hands in our pockets
and make laughing diversions
but all the time we know there is a revolution,
and laugh ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

I cannot wipe from vision gestures of male arms
thrown wide open like harvest sickles
or like dream battalions on the attack
all seeking juvenation.


I seep the beer again
and my neck burns with the unpractised crane
and in turn my lips scorch with anxiety -
where was I sitting - sorry, my friends
I made you wet I can't hold the drink steadfast
anymore - I need more than five fingers and
a human thumb to hold the world together in this flame
of passion.

Since you sat on my knee
my eyes are like berserk oxen under yoke
if you stretch my patience, I will be cross-eyed yet -
Please, another dance.
Without you dancing is like climbing the universe
on human feet with no one to cheer and urge or boo.

A! what is a dance without the African whistle
without the drum-thud-thub
without your voice fluting into feeling
like watermelon juice fresh from red slices
down a parched throat.

It is no dance without the legs agog
and hips rolling with the jerk of the waterbed
and female fingers at the wide-stretched ends
of the skirt.


My love, what is a dance
without a challenge
but relish without salt
so come and let us share
this rhythm

for until your hip rolls like a wave
and floods my heart and soul
I am still on my earthly feet.

The song, my dear, is meaningless
without the gesture of your shoulder
to refuse-and-beckon Kingfisher's fired palm
to the drum.

Until then we sip the beer
and our eyes become rheumy from
staring at immoveable black angels
mouldy from the cosmetic bleach of yester-year
half-hoping this our last wink
will bring the promise of full hands tonight.

This fire makes us twinkle.


For one night, one only,
we burrowed in your song and dance
enough for five seasons' joy.

We brought our sadness
some brought tears
some brought empty hands
others brought scarred faces
lonely hearts and naked
thirsty souls
and still others emptiness.

Jikinya is a bellow-blower
at the gates of destiny
and we wait melting hot
amid the sneering remnants of embers.

We will obey your hand
mankind will obey your anvil
and salute your hammer and mould,

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