Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fire Breathers

They were seedy guys in bad costumes at the circus that you couldn’t see very well because you were up in the bleachers, but still, it was the coolest thing you ever saw! Last September, on Saturday night at WomanSong, we left the movies in theatre hall where we had been hiding from the rain and wind and cold and trying to avoid the drips coming through the holes in the roof and had about given up on the promised campfire, when the planners announced we should move to the big tent where we would have our music and poetry around . . . luminaria? . . . instead of the usual open bonfire. Well, kind of a disappointing token sort of fire thing, but we shuffled out and across the wet lawn anyway, clutching our shawls and blankets and windbreakers close. The rain seemed to have let up for the moment at least. And there, outside the tent, they were waiting for us, practicing a little, with their potions and hoops and batons . . . and their . . . FIRE! They ate the flames and breathed out plumes of fire like graceful feline dragons and made lines of fire on their arms and shoulders and twirled burning batons and danced with flaming hoops. Right there within a few short yards of us. You could see their faces, hear their breathing, see their sweat, hear the leather of her vest creak, hear the little rush of the fuel and the small roar of the burning flame, hear the whoosh whoosh whoosh of each turn of the twirling flaming hoop, hear the little breath of relief at the end of a dancer’s challenging moves, see the reflection of the flames on the beads of water on the wet grass and on the eyeglasses of the watchers. You could smell the fuel and the gases from its burning mingling with the wet smells of the rain. When she moved past close enough you could smell her perfume. You could see the dancers’ bare feet and their jewelry and hear the clank of the batons as they touched in the air. It was real and right there. Live. Fire. Firebreathing. Firedancing. WomanSong.

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