by Jimmy Blackmon
Mouth agape I stared in wonder
At the charismatic dance
Of blended culture and religion.
Entranced they stomped with conviction
To music that transcended place and time.
They were simple people shaped by a life
Carved out of hard Appalachian ridges.
All around me they swayed and moved
Eyes closed heads turned Heavenward
Clapped their hands or patted their legs
Gripped by a Spirit I could not see nor understand.
An evangelical revival a physical gospel
The only reference for a boy my age
I was intrigued, enthralled, fascinated
By a musical dance that took them
To a place only they had seen.
In fall they danced the Gold Rush jig
Elbows cocked their hands flailing
Knees lifting shoes smashing
They pounded the earth with violent grace
The dance of a caged mountain bird
Yet more – a therapeutic ballet
To lift the burdens of this life
Renew hope of better days
If not in this life, their faith tells them —
In the one to come.