Rhythm of Breath: An Exodus Poetics of Becoming

All throughout the African Diaspora

the Spirit is manifest

as an exodus of human souls

dispersed the world around

with a common purpose

carrying a certain rhythm

in the souls of the people

A uniquely syncopated African breath that is


individual and collective

African, Caribbean, Afro-American, Latino and Latina

An exodus rhythm of

dislocation, displacement, dispersal, exile

sometimes erasure—not often return—

a syncopated cycle

of breath for the African Diaspora


What happens when the rhythm is disrupted?

Keeping in time with the rhythm

of exodus is essential breath

for an African Diaspora whose

survival depends on

keeping faith

with this rhythm

which dictates the

movement of a people

through a wilderness toward becoming

more divine after

being dehumanized


We keep with the rhythm lest the cycle stop!

Wisdom chooses to keep time

with the rhythm of this world order

which was predestined by the colonizers

when they decided

who will be “the first” and

who will be “the last”

For black bodies, for “the last,”

who refuse to be dislocated

the cycle stops at erasure


What does this movement reveal,

what revelation does it conceal?

Could we ever divine its divine purpose?


Perhaps it is the colossal dislocation

of the African Diaspora

that is in due time to create

a sustained, stabilizing

rhythm for all of humanity


But at what cost?


But at what cost?

About the Poem:

Imagine Spirit in the African Diaspora as the manifestation of an exodus journey. Now think of how different society would be if the people of the African continent had not been dispersed around the world. One might wonder if the dislocation of people of color from their native lands holds a deeper meaning. In today’s turbulent, politically polarizing times, people of color in the United States are being asked yet again to take another exodus journey. But this time they are being asked to “go back” to the countries they originally came from. In keeping with the rhythm of the Spirit that indwells—people of color should know they have nothing to fear. We have been here before. And God has never abandoned or forsaken us. As people of color, we are in the process of becoming who we must be to meet the political challenges of this season. We must keep pace with the rhythm of resistance to racism and xenophobia until this exodus cycle stops once and for all.

Sharon Kimberly Williams is an arts and letters doctoral candidate in The Caspersen Graduate School of Drew University where she is pursuing a joint degree with the Drew Theological School in the Studies in Religion and the Fine Arts. Her research interests include Spirituality and Healing in the Arts and Music Therapy in Biblical Antiquity.  The themes of pain, love, beauty, and lament that occur in her writing are based on her studies in the fields of music and theology, Africana poetics, and Hebrew poetry. Sharon has performed music and poetry all around the world. Currently, she is working on publishing her first collection of poetry entitled, Breath|Voice|Fire.  She serves as a contributor to Harvard Medical School’s Global Health Catalyst, an initiative that advocates for eliminating global health disparities. Sharon resides in Madison, New Jersey.