by Elizabeth Reeke
Your song of life falls softly and endlessly through the span of the ages,
words heavy with the substance of birth and death,
a pulsing history of a land and its peoples;
hushed halls, San Francisco, Seattle, across the seas
a striking profile cradling an oud,
deft fingers, resonant voice,
weavers of colours unknown to me,
haunting compelling intimations settle in the mind and heart,
rhythms tug at the tethers binding us,
such a small semblance of life (!)
visions of who we are, how we are connected.
what do the mind and heart know?
Yesterday and tomorrow have converged
to leave me chilled and shaking!
Toshka, once your village,
lands now flooded by the mighty dam;
a young man, engineering studies,
long journeys by donkey, learning the songs of your people
the Nubians living along the Nile;
now these songs, the voice of the oud and tar
bring back these lives to all of us,
the hypnotic turning of the huge water wheels,
humming and shouts of the boys and old men
prodding the oxen to keep the waters flowing,
a continual renewal of all
the lives dependent on them,
rhythms that never cease, memories that never fade,
a graceful language that dwells deep within,
a pulse of beauty that quickens the heart with gratitude.
let us breathe deeply in the stillness,
could we but call out to one another
this timeless message of the continuity of life.
Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Reeke.
NOTE: I was privileged by an opportunity to meet and accompany Hamza in concert through the ethnomusicology department at the University of Washington.