BY KENYA DANINO AND AMANDA KELLY ESPIRITU
It was a Saturday afternoon.
Painter’s sky in tow the clouds poured out their colors like they were an overture
Cataclysmic and bright
What Heaven might look like.
A warm summer breeze draped itself along the worn down pavement
As we made the mistake of—
Saw it as a blessing though—
We were dating.
“Sit down. I got something to show you.”
I couldn’t disobey the authority in his voice.
It frightened me. Spoke through my bones.
His voice was a lure, catching at my ears
Snaking its melody through my brain
He captured my wide eyes with the pads of his hands
Taking care to leave his fingerprints imprinted on my retina
“You’re scared aren’t you?”
“Then we have to start from square one.
Take my hand.
To start, touch these drums.”
My hands were too tiny to cover the back of your palms
I became entranced by the rhythm of us hitting the drums
It echoed my heartbeat
1, 2, 3, Bara-Ta-TA!
1, 2, 3, Bachata-TA!
He loved me like the echoes of his conga drum
It was the only way he knew how to describe his feelings
But he loved me in a way I could not even begin to decipher
“Your body is a music box, you are a beautiful melody.
Let me show you.
Your turn to play and see.
Let me show you.”
Where did you learn to play like that?
Where did you learn to play ME like that?
“I taught myself how to play the drums.
Playing a drum is like figuring out the melody of a beautiful woman
Let me teach you about a whole new way of life.
Your voice resonated deep.
We were soul children that moved and grooved to the same beat.
“Step 1: Listen. You hear that?”
I didn’t hear anything—
But we played the drums together.
We were beautiful, rhythmic sound together.
“Step 2: Feel it.”
I’m feeling it!
“No not enough, I mean really feel it.”
I’m feeling the edges of my barriers!
I’m feeling myself disintegrate!
I’m falling headfirst into a pool of reverberating clapped palms and ghost notes!
I’m falling too fast.
I’ve fallen for you.
“Step 3: Let the connection drive you. Let loose. Let go.”
I was still hesitant
What if I skip a beat?
What if he laughs if I make a mistake?
What if I do let myself loose control?
“See, I knew you could play—
But you won’t get past this stage until you learn what you want
What do you want? Who are you?
What is your rhythm? How do you sound? Show yourself to me.”
Obliterating my fears, I let go of my embarrassment
Blindfolded the word rejection and went roaring, pounding sound
As the notes became louder
I let my hips move to the tune
I became the rhythm I had built on my own
I spun magic notes and beats he ate off my fingertips
I unraveled at the hands of a music that had lain dormant within my soul
Three years’ worth of symphonies and ballads
We took turns conducting an orchestra of hollowed drums
Rising crescendos soared through our veins
Until our matched tempos split and skittered, off kilter
We fell over flats and scraped our knees on sharps
We went deaf from the intensity of our own decibels.
You said “I won’t always be here, but always remember 1, 2, 3”
I said, “I can’t play nursery beats, No 1, 2, 3 anymore
You will never hear my song to completion.”
He taught me how to play
He taught me how to sing
He taught me how to love myself.