Summoned by drums (for Bruce Chatwin’s detractors)

Don’t know ‘bout you but I can sense
the sounds of walking in the beat,
the clash of gourds and cooking pots,
the bells of beasts, the bangled feet.

Some music swings, slides and sways
with a camel’s winding gait,
other kinds, like ponies, trot
or tread as oxen, slow, sedate.

You may reject this as the work
of a wild imagination,
that we learn dancing in the womb
on our regular migration.

It may seem mystical or trite,
yet I’ve no problem with the notion
that our rhythms are the product
of former modes of locomotion.

Composers now quite consciously
choose the pounding of the wheel
on railway or road to give
their accompaniments a modern feel.

This has still to penetrate
into the roots of memory,
where our bodies catch the spring
to the step of melody.

But, thanks to our technology,
I can hear right round the earth
and all the way into the past
to where these patterns had their birth.

That’s why the drums can spark across
gaps in our cultural education
and teach the ignorant to move
without further explanation.