The waterhole at dusk is a gravity of thirst,
a regalia of species in the reeds, a nerve
arcing to the throat-song of lions: wariness
the pulse of animal calm.
I soak it in like a boab,
storing memory in a milky pulp to sustain me
through the lean years, when the present
will be a plough, my mind beyond tillage.
The black heron arches and fans its wings
into a canopy of feigned night; the shadowed fish
purrs through its gills, its day’s toil almost complete.
Ahhmmsah! I am the river of that sound,
heft, a silverback. My gait will always be four-limbed.
While others forage in them, the trees
are my pennants and heralds. I enthrone
each time I sit.
Over the mountain
the blood-and-serous-eyed insurgents
have gouged and blistered our sanctuary,
the poachers’ machete and panga are vultures
of the living.
Here, in the Karisimbi, the guides
and trackers bring the tourists, who must lift
lenses from their chests to their flat-lidded
sockets to see us properly. We ponder
their strangeness, the distance they keep.
We have learned trust
can only ever be a truce.
The pathfinder, a she-buffalo, leads
the herd, her knowledge of watercourse
and lush pasture sure-footed, her step
constant through ravine and scree,
her instinct a collective noun.
A dazzle of zebras
A memory of elephants
A rumpus of baboons
A bloat of hippos
A tower of giraffes
An intrusion of jeeps and landrovers
A paste and mash of tourists
A facsimile of cameras
A dotage of journals