A poem by Caroline Street

Traversing the winding, gravelly road, 
Wherever I gaze, just grey
Acacia thorn and stick trees
Stunted from fires and drought, 
With intermittent splashes of green. 
Despite the hardship of the land, 
The flora thrives in the warm, grainy sand.

The quirky hornbill arches his spotted head, 
Eyes scanning the ground for a treat;
Bulbuls chitta-chatta loudly in the trees
Searching eagerly for bugs and berries. 
An eagle soaring high is difficult to identify
With the sun glinting in my eyes. 

Spoor of impala, giraffe, zebra, and civet 
Are distinct upon the sand,  
Each print shows its brand.  
Perfect indentations of hooves and pads 
Indicate the animals direction across the land.

At noon, time stands still, 
Nothing stirs the intersecting branches 
Scorching under the sun. 
I take my chances and go for a stroll 
And notice how the drought has taken its toll. 
Just a slightly discernible breeze sways
The long, bleached grass, 
Adding an aura of softness 
To the arid landscape in my path.   

My thoughts are filled with the elusive leopard 
That has been spotted around.
Healthy trepidation fills my senses;
I am on the lookout!
My subconscious fears
That should the leopard appear, 
I might not welcome sunset.
This princely cat is decisive and swift
And is not a predator I want to attract.   

Large spider webs cover a milkberry tree,
The spiders are unseen by me, 
But no doubt they have espied me 
And moved  into the centre of the tree.

Traces of fur and bone are strewn on the ground.  
I surmise a recent kill or altercation
Took place during the night 
When sight for cats is bright.  
The victor now, no doubt licking his paws, 
The victim, it appears, is no more.
Here and there are prodigious sandy hills 
Created by assiduous ant colonies –
The abstract artists of the bushveld,
And the anteater’s dream.
I am aware that the gaping holes  
Could be the habitat of a snake 
And poking around could result
In a deadly mistake.   

At day’s end, the sun slowly
Sets into the horizon –
The bushveld now swathed in gold;  
A touch of coolness descends
And the eagle soars no more.   
Will the quietude of the night 
Be interrupted by the lion’s roar?  

In the boma, the fire is lit and just
Beyond that in the darkness, we sit.
The clarity of the stars takes my breath away, 
Yet torches are still essential to light the way. 
No wildlife will approach tonight, 
Deterred by the flame of the firelight, 
But will sniff the tantalising aroma of the braaivleis.
Dawn will reveal animal spoor,
The tell-tale search for left-over food.  

At daybreak, the silhouettes of trees and cacti
Creates an intricate pattern against the violet-blue sky. 
A solitary beetle is hard at work 
Rolling dung to an underground hide. 
As I huddle over my coffee 
A thought comes to mind, 
It’s just God, His angels and I
Who witness this golden silence of the sky; 
The creation of a new day 
In this harsh inspirational bushveld.


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