the rhythms make us one

tonight the city dances
salsa colombiana
three thousand people sway
one being and one purpose
six thousand feet, six thousand hands
but one head, one heart is all
for the rhythms make us one.

we are one
with pulsing guitars
and throbbing drums
and sweet crying curls of tenor voice
and Spanish words
and human hope
and universal joy
and single-hearted love

we are one
the black man, the white woman
whose bones become lambada limbs
serpentine symphonic skin
pyrotechnic arms and legs
erupting choreoectasy.

we are one
the red-haired tentpole Chinese boy
and his happy Chinese girl
his gangly steps, her awkward turns
the foolish smiles and toothy grins
all laughing life and living love.

we are one
the old, toothless man who twists
and the little boy who spins
and the little girl who jumps and shakes
and the guard who walks and waves

for here there are no countries
and here there is no race
here no ideologies
and no fights for time nor space
our creeds do not divide us
from communion in this place
and age and sex and wealth are null,
the dance is our embrace.

in this twelve-thousand-chambered heart
we beat Your Kingdom come,
and with all three thousand of our parts
we dance Your will be done.

and even when the breezes blow
the last salsa strums away
the last melody fades and stills,
the last guitar is packed away

like wind-borne dandelion seeds
the crowd scatters into the night
three thousand sparks of firework flash
go speeding out of sight.

but a broken wave returning round,
the rhythm spreads and softens
ripplings reaching farther now
for the music will go on.

mix heartbeat throbs in a Harlem crib
with mourners’ sobs by graveyard stones
and the backbeat track of the lovers’ bed
and the racing rush of the runner’s feet
and silent streetlights cycling above
and ceaseless circles of timeless hours
the sweet spinning of this world in space
and high singing of its star.

the music will not end,
the rhythms still go on,
this dance is for infinity —
we must know that we are one.

© jon zuck | lincoln center, new york | july 20-21, 1999