At first, the darkness of Africa is dense and dreadful
But for the stars above; pinpricks in the velvet night
There is no moon and the echoing bark of a nyala
Gives warning; there is movement in the bush.
Senses alert, my spine tingles in anticipation
The screech of a nagapie carries on the breeze
Like the doleful cry of an injured child
And I am mindful to resist the temptation
To run wildly into the inky black, to its rescue.
We sit and we wait; the cicadas, chirp
A constant whistling buzz; mosquitoes whine
A smell of damp earth, and fear.
And then we hear it, a rustle of leaves
A rumble in the darkness that vibrates within.
There it is again from the other side.
And slowly, shapes come lumbering out
From the bush to the waterhole – and I can see
Grey shapes conjured in a grey landscape
Lumbering large but oh so quietly
Dipping trunks into the liquid ink of the pool.
A snort, and the dripping back of water
And a noise like an emptying sink as
They gurgle the water deep into their throats
And the tiny elephants keeping safe
Under their mothers’ legs obeying the signals
Be discreet; be wary; keep close
And in a moment they shrink into the darkness
And are gone. Magic of the night in Africa.
It is sometime since I have been on a night safari but the sounds and eeriness stay with me. Waiting beside a waterhole, anything can turn up. I remember feeling very vulnerable parked in a broken old open-topped Land Rover with a guide with an old rifle our own protection! Of course it is very dark when the moon is out and that is so much in contrast to Europe and yet once your eyes get used to it, you can see shapes and when the moon shines it can be quite clear. The guides have a searchlight but that does disturb the night life – better to wait and listen and watch.
Words copyright Englepip©