South Serengeti, July, 2016

Serengeti Sunrise

Some time after sun rise,

Three lionesses swim through

the tall, buff, grass.

Invisible,

Save for three lioness-length disturbances

six ears

Surfacing and disappearing and resurfacing

Their rustles audible only just before

They part the curtain of Serengeti

and step out into the ashen boundary

the wake of daily control burns

“Oh, they are all three very young,” our guide whispers

Watching them cross the narrow dirt road in perfect unison

cavalier calculating unafraid

They halt at the well-worn bank

of a meager mud-blackened pond.


My daughter and I are close and still

We listen to their pink tongues lap

She smiles and mouths wow

Brown eyes widen

The lionesses crouch

feminine feline forelegs

bend

tails tauten

fluffy tufts

like the tops of swamp reeds

twitch

oversized paws

sink

into the footprints of lesser beasts

who have the good sense to clear out early.


Is there a tacit understanding

Between the children of dead fathers?

My father died our guide says

Thereafter

he was raised by women

in his village near the base of Kilimanjaro

He tells us

He does not show his scars

He does not tell us what it means to a young man.


He does not reveal what it means

To listen to flies in the heat

Before walking the trail to dinner

He does not reveal what it means to

listen to birds keeping time

like long ago clocks

or what it means to watch a starling

take flight and disappear

into a yellowing sky

or what it means to stare at a straggle of zebras

grazing and ever grazing

or what does it mean to be one year shy of fifty

and be somewhere far from home

or what a leopard means when his eyes and teeth

seem to say


these are my teeth

these are my eyes

this is everything you will always lose.


he will only say

get down, please

he will only say

hold on please

and I want to show you the wild dogs.