the noises, rhythmic patterns they produce are complex
yet somehow compelling
it’s getting hot
the fire blazes up
fed with ever larger logs
a young woman is the first to begin
dancing wildly at the centre of a clapping circle
she pulls off, one by one, her top
her sandals
& her wraparound skirt
one after the other, the dancers around her come into the ring
with more or less grace
& repeat the baring of their bodies

He’s been hanging back
talking little, drinking (as a result)
rather too much
when he finds himself caught up in one such group
in a sense it is harder not to strip
dance like a disciple of Bacchus
than to give in

The younger people
tawny flanks striped by firelight
can apparently keep this up forever
but shortly afterward he drops out
retreats to the outskirts of the light
sits in the darkness with the stars wheeling around him

He’s conscious of the droning voices
long before his mind can decipher any of their message
belatedly he realizes
while the dancing & the drumming still continue
in their circle of trodden earth
another ceremony has begun beside them
in a darkened amphitheatre of logs

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