Poetry in Motion


A Tin Roof Song (an excerpt)

Afaa Michael Weaver

The music is a tap dancer's sliding soft shoe,
a regimen of holy roller churches where pastors hold
the pulpit swinging the other hand freely, receiving
the Holy Ghost descending. In the house the music
settles frazzled, black farmers—in Africa under
the stupor, the glaze of hunger, in America under
a driving will to be. Music from rain incites us
to dance, clay-stained, black toes wiggle in sleep to thunder.
Lightning cracks on far sides of fields,
splitting edges of forests, lighting tree tops.
An unfamiliar ritual has begun, a past is incarnate,
a West African mask with eyes like black lips
mounted on a sleek, doll body for its divination—
it is the soul of our fathers and mothers.

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"A Tin Roof Song" (excerpt) from Water Song by Michael S. Weaver. Copyright © 1985 by Afaa Michael Weaver. Reprinted with the permission of University of Virginia Press and the author.