A Minor Intrusion On Lives Of Animals Poem by Lionel Abrahams

A Minor Intrusion On Lives Of Animals

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Lion (two or three), zebra (scores) and other thirsty
at a water hole. How alive they are! How lovely
while healthy - even while hungry, even when frightened.
We were up there at Kruger to (you could say) ‘gape'
at them - to tally species sighted (impala, warthog, monkeys,
hyena, herds, birds, some that are rarer-
and for me, ah! right high, above even elephant,
giraffe. What can be the silent water that giraffes flow in?).
I was up there to play and praise the game, to, of course,
learn some of Nature's nature, and, even perhaps,
to see- to eye-witness
(honesty's duty to the brutal truth?)
an actual kill.

Our car one at the unfenced viewsite facing water,
across which, spotted among reeds, manoeuvring
lion, and congregated quarry, all ready.
Ignoring safety rules, I stand in the wild
outside the car, chin on forearms, leaning
on the open door, my parapet.
Nothing but air between my eyes and the scene......
Lion or lioness (these years late I don't recall),
the prime striker in a screen of bush, sprung tight,
tight-aimed, gaze fixed on one plump herbivore -
that near nervous zebra, testing air
for peril, bending down to lap.
All ready.
Predator glides in a snail-slow low prowl...slowly
ac-cel-erates.....will crouch...will spring....
And does.... I will see
the shock, the horrid struggle, even blood....
I yelp my thrill.

Zebra startle, whirl, flicker, splash away,
are gone. Lion breaks leap,
flops flat, sits, blinks, glares.
That zebra's spared. I'm spared,
though my species spear me
with five carloads of sharp hate.
But the killer big cat's glare turns
onto What?... noisy pink head....
intruder..... enemy...... thief.....
Whatever: me.
Lucky the lake between us,
otherwise I would become
disgusting surrogate prey,
knocked down, torn, broken,
my sour little meat devoured instead..

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