One Voice

by | Feb 9, 2010 | Poetry | 0 comments

The land is dry and barren,
grazed by constant hunger.
The atmosphere is restless
rippling through; infectious.

I feel it in vibration
of the hardened earth.
I hear it from deep throat
calling of communication.

Instinct strong; I know it’s
time to be moving on; for
my calf cannot grow here
and I cannot stay alone.

Herds converge; buffering,
masking the young.
Swollen in number, we
traverse the African plain.

Amid a cacophony of panic,
I arrive at the Mara River.
Wide, murky and flowing fast,
dust rising, choking, beneath
the scorched cloudless sky.

Hemmed in by stamping hooves,
I freeze. Sheer trepidation alone
holds me back from the water.
Bank too steep, drop too vast
only the foolhardy cross here.

A thousand eyes roll; anxious.
Except, for the voracious eyes
of our jaw salivating predators
waiting to twist and thrash, and
tear us apart limb from limb.

Others wait in ambush; skulking
sandy, indistinct in the scrubland
weakness their last vestige of food,
before once more we return on mass
to grace their rain refreshed land.

Survival bites, and I follow the tide
of steaming sinew further down river,
to a less precipitous approach.
The queue is noisy and impatient,
with bodies jostling for supremacy.

Suddenly; I am at the front, knees
buckling in the pressing weight
of Wildebeest and Zebra; the lighter,
Gazelles choosing their own path.
We all know what we have to do.

Mustering my hidden courage
I leap into the swirling melee;
galloping, legs flaying; ignoring
the debris of trampled muscle,
I focus only; on the bank ahead.

Midstream, I lose my footing.
Awash in the promise of death
I kick hard against the current.
The churning silted water;
floods my fully-flared muzzle.

With neck at fullest stretch
and channelling all abject fear
I strain for life-breathing air;
as my scrabbling feet, regain
the grip; of the solid river bed.

Grateful for release, and
with three reaching strides
I make it to the other side,
scrambling onto dry land.

I hear a desperate cry
individual from the rest.
Lost calf to a mother
survived to be reunited.

Joining the exodus
of the cloven snake line
we travel the way of our
ancestors to the new grass.

Moving, transient
following the rains
whilst he; will carve
his own charted path.


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