The Gathering of the Elephants at the End of the Story
Friday, September 30, 2011
These are the only words I have to speak from the cleft between awe and wonder. Soon, I hope, the Story will be able to be told.
i arrived in Africa on September 15th.
Many meetings with the elephants occurred over the first days when
Krystyna Jurzykowski and I were in The Chobe National Park, Botswana, with our own 4 x 4 vehicle. Some of the meetings might be dismissed as ordinary or happenstance, except that the individual events formed one indisputable Story enacted over those three days.
The final confirmation or small wonder occurred as our guides,having arrived for the rest
of the journey, were driving us toward our next destination.
At the last moment in the park on September 17th, the second day, my
birthday, an almost invisible event, but one no being could have orchestrated, occurred that was as true a sign as any I have ever experienced.
And again, on September 18th, as has occurred before at the last hour of the last
day on three different days of three separate years, there was a final event
that could stand on its own as a meeting and was, itself, incontrovertible. It transpired over the last two hours, 4 – 6 pm, of our last day in the Park.
The Delegates Meet Us Eye to Eye
We were not met by a single Ambassador, but by an entire delegation.
The elephants came. The message? That they came!
And so this event and its implications become the foreground of my life at this time.
Poem from Ruin and Beauty: New and Selected Poems (Red Hen Press 2009)
Suddenly, I am of a single mind extended
Across an unknown geography,
and imprinted, as if by a river, on the moment…
A mind held in unison by a large gray tribe
meandering in reverent concert
among trees, feasting on leaves.
One great eye reflecting blue
from the turn inward
toward the hidden sky that, again,
like an underground stream
what will appear after the dawn
bleaches away the mystery in which we rock
through the endless green dark.
I am drawn forward by the lattice,
by a concordance of light and intelligence
constituted from the unceasing and consonant
hum of cows and the inaudible bellow of bulls,
a web thrumming and gliding
along the pathways we remember
miles later or ages past.
I am, we are,
who can distinguish us?
a gathering of souls, hulking and muddied,
large enough – if there is a purpose –
to carry the accumulated joy of centuries
walking thus within each other’s
particular knowing and delight.
This is our grace: To be a note
in the exact chord that animates creation,
the dissolve of all the rivers
that are both place and moment,
an ocean of mind moving
forward and back,
outside of any motion
contained within it.
This is particle and wave. How simple.
The merest conversation between us
becoming the essential drone
into which we gladly disappear.
A common music, a singular heavy tread,
ceaselessly carving a path,
for the waters tumbling invisibly
I have always wanted to be with them, with you, so.
I have always wanted to be with them,
Mandlovu is the word the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe use for female elephant, It is connected in resonance with Mambo Kadze the name for the deity that is both elephant, the Virgin Mary and the Great Mother.