Once, undressing for bed, I found
my thighs—knees to hips—blooming with bruises,
smoky purples, brilliant reds, patches of dull yellow
washed with green, and blackened paths wandering
through the twin gardens.
A sudden shock of beauty.
Tender to the touch.
Had I fallen? Bumped a countertop?
And forgotten as one forgets the last breath?
Had a steel bar fallen from the roof and struck me?
Had someone truncheoned me for secrets?
But why? And when? Surely I would remember.
Was it disease then? Hidden in my flesh for years,
surfacing now to announce my death?
what they would tell me.
It was you, they said. This morning.
To learn the drumbeat of the songs, so you would not forget,
your hands were beating out the rhythms
on live animal skin stretched over a frame of bone.
You were dancing and drumming. You would not stop. It was you. It was joy.