Reciprocal Rhythm

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By Toni Spencer

There is a reciprocal rhythm. A flow between things.
A velocity of reciprocity that builds a village, builds
a dream, builds the world.

For we are kin and kin means I need
you, and you need me. And the sun.
And the water. And the soil
born of things long dead.

Most of us grew up in little boxes. Little boxes
made of ticky-tacky. My house.
Your house. My plate. Your plate.
In the desert, there is one plate at dinner. One plate
where we all tuck in, fingers first, food for all.
I want that.

I want you to ask me for stuff.
I want you to ask because asking is
the kind of boldness we need.
Tell me what you want and I come
a little closer to you, and we dance.

It’s not the yes or the no, but the asking
that rocks the world to this rhythm.
And the ticky-tacky begins to crumble, walls fall
and we need each other all the more.

There is a reciprocal rhythm. Let me
give you things. Don’t hold back
your receiving, because it leaves us both
bereft of the kinship that ties us, reminds
us of our entwined-ness as ecological beings.

I cannot. No. I will not survive without you.
OK yes, some kind of half living but
not the kind I’m worthy of.
Not the kind you’re worthy of. And not
the kind they are worthy of.
Help me, not to fix but to fill the heart. Not to trade but to
till the soil of inter-being that is all there has ever been.

There is a reciprocal rhythm and it’s not in 4-4 for it
doesn’t follow straight lines. It’s a wild rhythm where
I help you and you help her and she gets to stop and he
gives all he has for love.

There is a reciprocal rhythm and it’s not in 4-4.

Toni Spencer works with questions of deep ecology, resilience and “a politics of wonder.” As a lecturer and course leader Toni has taught on the faculty of Schumacher College (Educational Practice, Ecological Facilitation as Leadership, Embodied Eco-literacy) and at Goldsmiths, University of London (Eco Design). As a participatory artist she has worked with Encounters Arts and The Feral Kitchen, also taking “The Work That Reconnects” to activist communities at Occupy London and elsewhere.  She is a Trustee at Processwork UK and was on the Embercombe Council for 8 years. With a BA in Fine Art and an MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice, Toni has trained in a diverse range of awakening practices and facilitation modalities, alongside many years of dancing, foraging and “living life as inquiry.” She is a mentor and teacher for Call of The Wild with Wildwise and Schumacher. She has enjoyed spending time at Findhorn, on Dartmoor and in the deserts of Jordan where she fell more deeply in love with humanity, silence and writing.

4 thoughts on “Reciprocal Rhythm

  1. This poem has become a friend to me, it touches me each time I read it, and i have read it out load many times in my dance classes.
    It meets me in my longing and my despair and my fears and my deep knowing of Belonging.
    Thank you.

    • Hi! 4-4 is the classic musical rhythm for most pop, rock, R&B, folk, etc. It’s the ‘normal’ and simplest for people in the west to recognise and learn. It’s straightforward and easy to follow!
      I hope that makes more sense now 😉

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