Gert Strydom

Gold Star - 35,384 Points (03 April 1964 / Johannesburg, South Africa)

Witchdoctor Inyanga And The Impundulu - Poem by Gert Strydom

(In answer to A. G. Visser.In answer to D. J. Opperman)

Alone in the hot late-afternoon a old grey-haired man do sit
under the cool shade of a giant Tamboti tree
that is rooted in the cliffs
while he is searching the will of the ancestors
where the tree does branch up into the clouds
to the top water like a Yggdrasil,
that reaches between the earth, heaven and hell
to tell him about the instructions
of the Unkulunkulu, the Great-Great One.

His nerves are already at an edge
and maybe death does come
as over him flies a hammer-head bird
that does screech all around the tree
until more hammer-heads do come
and troop together in a swarm,
do take prey out of the dark stream
that does flow past the gigantic tree,
and he thinks of his children and grandchildren
that does work in factories far away with steel,
do wait upon the hammerheads
to shake loose from the darkest part of the stream
the spirits of the ancestors
that they can stimulate him
with news and instructions from the underworld

when the Impundulu does jerk him awake
and do come down with blue-white flaming light,
do split a huge camel-thorn tree apart
and the witchdoctor is speechless
when that explosion does burn into his back-eye,
when he notices small blue-white sparks crackle
as this judgement is something that comes
from up high from Unkulunkulu, the Great-Great One
who does send Impundulu out of his nest up in the clouds
to come and punish,
with their big beating wings the hammerheads do fly up
while Inyanga does not trust the peace.

The heaven that was earlier cobalt blue
is now black and dark with clouds folding over each other,
when no spirits do come to him to twist his mind with illusions
only the clouds are shaking
and Impundulu is here and there diving down from the sky,
the sulphur smell still does come from the split tree that lies smouldering
and he wonders what kind of a judgement and harm
Impundulu is bringing from the Unkulunkulu?

The earth does shake and away from any tree
Inyanga has to find shelter
as there is a wailing in the sudden wild wind
as if it is telling about murders, plunder,
marauding expeditions, rape and oppression
and suddenly he is scared that Unkunlunkulu
do wants to devour him and his people out of vengeance
with every thundering bolt of Impundulu
he is unsteady on his feet as if blinded
and he is suddenly afraid for his people,
for each man, each woman and child.

[Reference:"Impundulu" by A. G. Visser. "Ringdans van die hamerkoppe" (Ring-dance of the hammer-heads" by D. J. Opperman. Poet's note: The Hammer-head bird (also know as the shadow-bird, umber-bird, umbrette)is according to legend a bird that does call upon death to come.According to legend The "Impundulu" is the thunderbird that lives in the upper branches of the great Tamboti tree, in the clouds where its nest is. This tree has interestingly the same properties and is indeed similar to the Nordic "Yggdrasil" legendary tree that connects the under-earthly (hell) , earth and heaven with each other.The "Unkulunkulu" is the omnipotent Lord God.]

Topic(s) of this poem: mythology

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, November 2, 2017

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