First draft of a prose poem, after last night's fandango at Muddy Waters café
Six standing against the wall, instruments in hand
Skulls smile from over their shoulders, flowers in their hair.
Two men, un chaparrito y un gordito, welcome the crowd
in two languages, and call on everyone to participate.
El chaparrito teaches the rhythm of the dance – the zapateado –
says "café con pan, café con pan,"
two stomps with the left foot, one stomp with the right, one more with the left.
Then switch sides.
Then they begin to play, the harp,
the marimbol, and jaranas –
the big huapanguera and three others
each smaller than the one before.
The man in the white hat, white shirt
plays the smallest jarana, the mosquito,
and has the smallest voice.
They sing, taking turns
starting and ending each verse with the same line.
These songs are stories, funny and sad.
The first starts, Ay Guacamaya, ¿adónde vas?
A los Estados Unidos, a la pisca, a trabajar.
Still playing, the chaparrito calls everyone to come closer.
The band circles 'round the tarima
more people crowd in the door
a brown woman in a huipil
a white man with a ponytail
a little girl on her papa’s shoulders
more jaranas of all shapes and sizes join the circle.
On the tarima, the dancing platform,
two big mamas learn the zapateado
the "café con pan" on their lips,
No one cares they miss a step or two.
The song goes on and on
verse after verse
circling around the rythym,
the call and response
now quieter, now louder
‘til el chaparrito yells “una!”
the musicians play one more round of chords
their hands drop silent to their sides
in the same moment everyone brings theirs together
to clap and cheer ...