I revisited the river of time,
And sat on my favourite bench with rhyme –
An ode to someone who,
Like myself, once loved the same spot I do.
The year before I observed a pair of buffalo
Languishing in the long grass
Next to the river’s gentle flow;
Coppery and reflecting the sky, like glass.
I sensed the beasts peace and harmony,
Content in their companionship –
Their life carefree.
All day they lay under the sun
Only to rise for a drink of water
And to change position.
I gaze at the winding river;
The life source of the African savannah.
Recent floods from excessive rain
Have scarred the great plain –
Now it is in disarray.
Grass flattened and trees uprooted,
Muddied banks, where once
The gently moving water was on display.
Today the river reflects the dullness of the sky:
Grey, depressing – rain is on its way;
The birds seeking shelter as they fly by.
The distant trees in the mist are a blur;
There is a hush over the bushveld, nothing stirs,
Yet in the near distance I see the brown hulk
Of a lonesome buffalo approaching me.
He makes his way through the flattened flora
Towards the river’s edge;
This is one of the buffalo I recall from a year ago.
I question why I do not see his mate,
He cuts a lonely figure; his demeanour grim.
Why is he in this melancholy state?
The buffalo makes his way higher up the river this time,
He folds his legs and lies down in the muddy slime.
He rests there until dusk; head bowed,
And as I look up at the rain cloud,
I sense a heart-wrenching sadness
From the lonely buffalo.
I’m still wondering why his friend has not appeared
As to each other they were endeared.
Even the egrets, his companions, sympathise
As they do not leave his side;
They know the buffalo’s pride.
Do they sense his loneliness –
Attempting to make up for it in this thoughtful way,
After all the wildlife kingdom shares a similar ethos,
And they seem to help him get through the day.
Perturbed, I stroll along the river’s edge,
Along the walkway with the split-pole fence.
In view, the debris from the flood
Caught up in grass, roots, and mud
When something harrowing catches my eye;
A washed up skull – all that’s left of a buffalo’s demise.
Here lies the answer to my question,
And the reason for the buffalo’s depression.
Nature destroys, but also brings forth joy;
Vegetation will revive and once again the river will flow,
Silver and copper under the moonlight glow.
A year from now when I sit on the bench with rhyme,
Renewal will bring forth happier times.
In the distance, I will see the lonely buffalo
Slowly walking towards me in a sunny halo,
Towards the luscious foliage at the river’s edge.
He’ll nod his head as if to say, “I’m still around”.
He’ll fold his legs, and will lay side by side
With another lonely water buffalo


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