People buy watches in Kota Kinabalu
It sounded like an owl
he said we should ‘up the pace'
as we had a bit to go
Gunung Api would be hot and wet and slippery
we must start descending by eleven
and leave camp before dawn
‘It's my father's frog'
‘well it's not just his, it's for all of us'
the river was rocks as we crossed
the trees tighter and talking
hanging with green viper, tiny scorpions abundant
‘my father stopped working in the forest
when he heard the frog first time
straight away turn and head home
we knew he would come
across our little bridge
just as we lit the lamp and the forest voices came'
I thought of the frog as a conductor
It was the six o'clock frog
after the climb the river was chest high
we crossed and tied a rope for the others
the grinding whine of chainsaws in the distance
branches moving downstream
fast in the muddy water
Chai is a Scottish writer.
Most notable works include
'Before the Craic Began' a collection of poems written over 20 years whilst working and living in Arisaig as the local Headteacher.
Also published in 2021 is a collection ' The Road to Ksar Ghilane' reflecting on his travels to remote and less travelled parts of the world.
He is currently travelling but always regards Scotland as home.
The road to Ksar Ghilane has a left-hand turn
we pulled in, the driver gouging out
the deep red sand creating a confeti
People buy watches in Kota Kinabalu In 2004 we went to Sarawak and Sabah for the school holiday. The rainforest seemed mostly intact though but we found the need for palm oil was in fact ripping through this wonderful place. Orangutans were in hiding and we went to Sepilok sanctuary. The sticky smell of burning on the air followed by the horror of forest trashed into rows of palm. We had been climbing between Gunung Mulu and Api in a forest filled with spectacular insects and wildlife. I wrote this poem reflecting on a discussion with our guide along the way.