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TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM

I was born to the beat of the drum
in the wilds of Nigeria
to Yoruba swaying hips
where my lineage began.
 
Warrior woman
like Anacaona or Yuisa
Taino cacique
descendent of Queens
though many would have me
believe otherwise.
As if I can ever deny
the ran kan kan rhythm
of Tito or the sweet azúcar of Celia
that runs through my veins
life inducing spirituals
sung in foreign tongues
on ghetto street corners
celebrating La Fiesta de Pilito
con El Gran Combo, Hector, y La Lupe
en la casa de don Daniél.
We dance to the beat of this drum
on the streets of Humacao
to the streets of El Barrio,
Brooklyn, y el Bronx.
Old men slap fichas on
makeshift tables
shouting Capicu
and eating bacalaitos
from the corner cuchifrito.
We make love to the
beat of the drum
so we can feel
the vibrations of our souls
the most beautiful music
we will ever make.

© Nancy Arroyo Ruffin. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 24 April 2015