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Memorial Baptist Church

Dancer Poem - Memorial Baptist Church by Greg Powell

Memorial Baptist Church

For a Harlem Dancer

when word becomes flesh, and voices
moan lamentations of the never dead;
way out of no way joy make feet bones
rattle and take flight in ecstatic tapping
in grip of Holy Ghost touch making souls happy
eyes roll sweat dances slender legs become wings
open to birth revelations for chosen ones
to receive and be born again; when her hands
gyrate praise anointed by sacrificial blood
of shackled lambs; arms stretch wide
in burning cross crucifixion and she is torn.
spirits rise and raise the temple to tell us
the time is now. she leaps to ancient beats
hymn propelled to ritual on washboards
and antebellum tambourines. and we are touched
get Holy Ghost happy and shout and stomp
radical hallelujahs piercing fire into weary bones
eyes weeping tears of anguish and joy
anguish and joy:
rites of ring shout meditations
dance of scarified prayers lifted above ground
declaring a name for our soul