A little girl, in a bright, lime-green jumper,
stole the show tonight.
Her mama was playing the jarana and singing in a son jarocho performance.
Her papa, squatting on the floor in the front row,
was only a half-hearted obstacle to her transformation
from audience to performer.
The irresistible rhythm of the musicians yanked her from his clutch,
and, finding herself free, she scurried to the stage,
first to her mama’s red-ruffled skirt,
where she safely assessed her audience,
her tiny feet testing the beat,
as I am certain she had done often, while her mama practiced.

A little boy, even younger than lime-green girl,
seeing her basking in the attention of a roomful of strangers,
tiptoed cautiously to upstage her.
That magnetic pull between children,
drew lime-green girl to center stage.
Face to face, they stare, smile, wonder.
Little boy sees he is no match for this precocious creature,
and scurries, in his little boy gait, to his abuelita’s arms.
Lime-green girl’s papa beckons.
She flirts, slowly spins, but doesn’t comply.

There is a pause, long enough for me to look about,
and notice the audience seated in a crescent of folding chairs,
standing along the wall on the sides.
Parents,
one with a newborn wrapped in a woven bufanda,
close to their mother’s heart;
young children,
free to wander from the laps and hugs of one family member to another;
teenagers,
wearing t-shirts declaring their pride of ancestry and position on political issues;
grandparents,
dressed in traditional garb.
Not a one flaunting monetary wealth,
yet peacock-proud of their precious loved-ones around them,
all sharing the music,
and smiling at the little girl in the lime-green jumper.

One song ends, another begins,
the beat quickens,
lime-green girl’s mama steps up to the wooden stompbox
and deftly plays the beat with her heeled dancing boots.
Her jarana, slung over her shoulder on a strap,
dances the rhythm on her shoulder blades.
Lime-green girl steps up to the stompbox to join her.
Hesitantly at first, she moves her feet
and then we watch with astonishment,
as the music OWNS her!
She moves almost as expertly as her mama,
Bump, bump, bump bah bump!
Thump, thump, bump bah thump!
All eyes are on those little stomping feet,
perfectly in time to a beat
passed to her in the blood of her ancestors.
Her expression, one of satisfaction,
one of knowing who she is.
She is what music is.
She is what being human is.

All smiles,
the audience of generations past, present and future
flings their hearts wide open.
All worries and thoughts of real-world haunts,
are suppressed for the time.
While, yes, we may have stolen her future,
for a few brief moments,
she stole our present,
and planted within us
a bit of innocent wonder,
a bit of pure joy,
a bit of irrational hope,
a bit of the exuberant drumming
that we will continue feeling
with every beat of our hearts.

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