by Ruth Padel

Then spoke the thunder, shattering the looming blackness of our national life. The rumble that breaks a spell of the dry season

– Saro-Wiwa, "The Storm Breaks"

Does a zebra foal dream? Head lower, lower
under lenticular dark cloud,
he drags harlequin fetlocks, porcelain
quails' egg hooflets through pimpling dust,

slower, slower through the silver
rainbow night, this soot and fester
cellar-lighting, electricity of the blue
and evil eye. Night ringed with eyes,

gutter-glow of new-soused theatre,
hyena, leopard, caracal (that caramel cat
with ear tufts, anxious to feed her cubs)
watching the lame foal weakened by drought.

All you know is, that you don't know,
and are afraid. Moonshadow
where the big rocks laugh apart.
Predator-senses. Cilia. Heat detectors

crowd this long auditorium, segment
after segment of the midnight shuffle-plains.
They radar in on bodies, fluids, molecules
of flesh that do not know they glow, they draw.

Let's give him one dream-memory,
a zebra wish fulfilled in dazing plod,
some sheer green wall of sugarcane.
And look; he's made it through

into the bleach and blaze, rose curdling
over indigo and lard, this granult scar
of dawn. One more dawn nearer the water.
Sky blood-taggled, blood-tufted,

rushes over him like a white bowl
at the end of things, the little safe horizon
of a pilot's dial,
an inventory of therapeutic gems.

Last updated May 02, 2015