Death Comes to Bumberdrums
by Anitra L. Freeman

Black Mary blesses Bumbershoot
parades in long slow dignity
her great papier-mache moon-face
of beautiful melancholy
her rattling hands bestow benedictions
on music-worshipping masses

moaning black-robed acolytes
carry candles before her
carry her black train behind her
follow her on stilts
follow her painted like lepers
follow her in the black hoods of mystery

as Isis raised Osiris
the Albigensians raised Isis
the Albigensians burned
but the Mother of God
the Mother of Death
Black Mary

as the Albigensians split the Trinity
and inserted Black Mary
her acolytes part the throng
before the stage of Bumberdrums
Black Mary stands to applaud
the rocking jam of all the nations

then in her stately turn
sweeps nations of drummers
up in her wake

we swirl together down into the fountain
collecting ecstatic dancers
we rise like foam upon the waves of drums
black foam, festival-color foam, dancing foam

and the drummers collect in the circle
consecrated for them by four days of ceremony
the stage of prepared sacrifices
is lit
the acolytes of Black Mary dance
aginst flame and fireworks

and the Albigensians condense
out of the ashes

and Black Mary
embraces us all


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