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Odyssey from Africa 11f

Chapter 11 The Island Kingdom (f, continued...)

Near the north-most cape they passed, there
Lay the kingdom’s foremost city
By the name of Cannabarro
Here was found the royal palace

Of Ptolemy the Second.
In our time this city has the 
Name of Antisiranana
This great city was however 

Not the final destination 
Of our fleet of sailing vessels 
Which continued south along the
Eastern coast until they reached the

Bay of Antongil, wherein
They sailed up to its northern margin
To a small sea-faring town that 
We now call Maroantsetra 

(That great island’s wondrous place names
Long and beautiful to utter
Are a little hard to fit
Into inverse iambic rhythm!)

As the sun sank low before them
They saw tree-clad hills and beaches
Heard the screaming of the seabirds
As the ships approached a harbour 

Sheltered by a wooded island
In a tranquil shallow inlet
Stood a row of waiting jetties
Made of sturdy timber gangplanks

Held by round-cut cores of tree trunks 
Planted firmly in the seabed 
This impressive port construction 
Showed great prowess of its builders

Now their ship approached the quayside
With the aid of poles and rudder
As a sailor jumping nimbly
From the ship onto the jetty

Took in hand thick loops of bark-rope
Fore and aft secured the vessel;
So began the disembarking 
Both the children with their animals 

Were relieved that this sea crossing 
Though exciting, now was ended
Han and Kwona and their family
Soon were standing on the shoreline 

Then a group of men approached them
With them came a strange contraption 
Wooden wheels rolled round an axle
Underneath a mounted platform 

Two men towed the carriage forward 
From a leading T-shaped harness 
Now the vehicle stopped beside them 
They had never seen its likeness! 

Then the charioteers gave signal
To the family with their animals 
That they climb the two-wheeled platform 
Which they nervously attempted

Helped by Han and several others.
Round the margin ran a wood rail
Which they held to keep them steady
As the vehicle now lurched forward 

Thus they rode by transport, laughing  
As they rolled along the pathway 
Han and several warriors walking 
With the carriage, moving inland 

On they rode upon the chariot 
While the evening quickly darkened 
Glimpsing nearby shapes of dwellings 
Well-constructed wooden houses

Soon the travelling party halted
By a large impressive mansion
Several members of the household 
Waited at the door to meet them

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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