If a woman dances alone to the sound of bamboo, and there is nobody there to see her, is she there—or is it just the dance?
First, the high note, a chickadee
on a thin green branch.
Which simply proves
that wherever you go, there you are. Like a woman
in a bamboo forest in the middle of an oak grove.
Then a little rhythm from the wind.
Enough to make you hear wind chimes
and flutes and rain and mockingbirds.
The sound of music,
a rustling leaf sound, a light percussion.
Echoes of hollow wood hitting hollow wood,
but looped and layered.
Each melody independent.
Not one tree falling but many trees leaning over,
this way and that, as lithe as guitar strings.
Or a woman who becomes her dance.
A bird, its song.
Of this earth and not of this earth.
Crow cawing on measures ruled by bamboo lines.
And a beat
that originates inside bamboo and embraces oak.
The sound of soft blood rushing through a body.
A loud afterthought or hands clapping thunder.
Wind in front of wind.
Across and up high, a woodpecker working wood.
Not last, not least, the dancer bowing out of bamboo.
Soft steps in mud
imprinting more memories over the memory of rain.
One foot in front of the other, on the way out.
Finale, finally, then another call and response.
The woman still there.