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There is nothing to call them back

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Jambile: The Silence

As the water retreats deeper into the Kalahari sands
the Teaks draw back their sap in a last flush of gold
settling in for the long wait till the next rains

The beginning of the dry season

In a last bustle of activity
ants and termites on the pan edges
collect the remains of dry grass stalks and seeds
from now on, the only nourishment  will be the occasional elephant droppings
but the pans have dried out and there is nothing to call them back


Even the hornbills are still
and a soft underbelly of sound
as Teak leaves fall to the sand

Suddenly a bustle and flurry and excited cackle
as the guinea fowl arrive
scratching and scraping and scattering the droppings
in enthusiastic appreciation at the delicacies on offer
then scurry off in a wavering line
to their roost for the night

Silence as the sun sets
The universe hangs low over our heads

As we watch through the mosquito netting of our tents
we become part of the stars

Scorpio rising
as Orion safely slips over the eastern horizon with Sirius at his heels
safe from his sting for yet another night

A lion roars in the far distance
and an Elephant trumpets from the pan

Three days of almost-silence

Mandavu Dam: Diversity

We drive through the changing patterns of the park
deep sands of ancient dunes marked by increasing height of trees
where teak changes to Mopane
and Kalahari sands change to mudstones
and the Acacia and Terminalia grow by the pans
and Jesse bush crowns the hard compact soils of the ‘inbetweens’

The dam is filled with water
a place where millions of lives overlap in a dance around this abundance
hundreds of elephant and buffalo,
buck, zebra, giraffe
crocs slide through the silky surface of still waters
bask on the banks,
hippo call all day and night
birds pick crumbs at your feet
butterflies abound in the last flowering Capperacae
and a colony of Dassies in the rocks below
shuffle around for a place in the sun

From the monastery to New York!
So much life!

At night is a continual rustle and scurry of camp creatures
and an alarming cracking and breaking as two elephant eat the bushes by Mel’s tent

In the morning we wake to the discovery that our tents are covered
in small yellow stink bugs
who stay with us for the rest of the journey

Sinamatella: The Edge

We sit on the edge of the cliffs looking south
hundreds of miles of wilderness to the Botswana pans

Behind us, the luxury of a national parks cottage
a hot bath

This is an old, well-known haunt
we haven’t visited for 8 years

The restaurant is now ragged
elephants and baboons pulling at the thatch
lodges are empty of visitors

We walk to the eastern end to visit our old friends,
the Commiphora trees
strange green trunks weaving out of the barren rocks on the edge of the world

but they are gone
trashed, slashed, smashed to the grounds
but a ranger explains that they did it
for the tourists
‘For them to enjoy the view’

What destruction we bring for the most trifling of reasons

Outside the gate to the north lurks another monster
the extending arms of the Coal mine move closer to the park
as Zimbabwe forges ahead in providing energy for the nation

Elephant prints mingle in the coal dust and tracks of huge trucks
their ancient pathways disrupted by our growing destruction

Nature is held to ransom at the hands of man

Matopas: The Magic

Ancient granite mountains leaning into the skies around us

This is where Zimbabweans of all tribes have come for hundreds of years
to speak with the spirits
asking for advice and guidance

In the stillness there seems to be a question

‘how do we bring peace to our nation?’
‘behave as humans in respectful relationship with all things’

Scorpio rises again as Orion slips down to meet the horizon

old patterns
of ancient cycles
into new spirals

The stillness, the diversity, the edge and the magic

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