Poetry In Motion: Mestre & Novice

Photo taken by Adrian Mathurin of AHD Photography

Mestre & Novice

I don’t understand the language

of this game called Capoeira

but I’m invited to play all the same.


Hesitant, I arrive at the circle, the roda.

Teacher explains music is the guide –

tempo determines style of play,

fast or slow, methodical or wild –

learn to trust the rhythms.


The mestre holds an instrument

shaped like a bow

made taut by a metal wire

with a gourd resonator attached.

He strikes three times

calling everyone to attention.


Timbre-like vibrations fill the air

accompanied by a voice full of reverence and song.

Teacher taps my thigh

cueing me to clap along.

Quietly, I try to keep time with the rest of them.


In the center two bodies unfold

in dialogue with a relaxed Berimbau.

One male, one female – the ying and yang of life –

conversing through an unscripted series of movements

played close to the ground.

Bodies bend and contort

with playful flirtation and disciplined design.


All the while mestre moves the gourd

back and forth against his stomach

controlling the sound’s resonance

amplified by the surrounding instruments.

The drum beat switches.

Faster now and the crowd responds,

“Hey, Mestre Bimba!”


Two muscular men flip into the middle

buying the game with fiery energy –

kicks thrown in sequência with such speed and variety

I  hold my breathe – what if they slip?

Around me spontaneous shouts of appreciation

sound off and the players

respond in aerials and smiles.


Meanwhile, Mestre passes off his instrument

motioning for me to join him

at the foot of the Berimbau.

Wide-eyed, I look to Teacher, who nudges me.

“Just Flow” she instructs.


I crouch to meet mestre with timid eyes.

His hands reach for mine – the touch of a master –

and together we enter this mysterious

thing called a roda.


Trying to Flow,

A Warrior Princess

One comment on “Poetry In Motion: Mestre & Novice

  1. Anonymous says:

    … ah, Teacher, this is the power of a team; of a ‘we’; origado(.)

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