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Odyssey from Africa 12b

Odyssey from Africa, Chapter 12 The Fireflower (continued, b)

Finally a tired Ipiki
Flew back to his owner Matto
Hanging from his fern-frond necklace 
Starting late his daytime sleeping 
Matto went into the mansion 
Back into their sleeping quarters 
Sought a place from where Ipiki
Could hang peacefully till evening 
Several children followed with him
One of them fetched from the kitchen 
An old wooden water bucket
Carried by a sisal handle
This was perfect for Ipiki
As a place to hang and sleep in
So he rested there till sundown; 
That night he would do no flying
After breakfast Han and Kwona
With their host and hostess, laughing 
At the antics of their children 
Spoke now of their visit's business 
Han would share with them his knowledge 
Of the craft of small boat-building
Of his reading of the ocean
And the chasing of the fish shoals

So Han walked with Tor the shipwright 
By the road back to the jetties
They would spend the day inspecting
Several ships that lay at anchor
When at nightfall all the children 
Came to see Ipiki's waking 
Matto heard a curious buzzing 
Quiet high-pitched and repeating 
Noises of a laboured breathing 
Something ailed the bat Ipiki
As the evening turned to nighttime 
Still the creature made no stirring 
Matto ran to look for Kwona
While the children of the household 
Talked of where to find a healer
One who knew of cures and medicines 
Thus when Kwona came with Matto
To attend the sick Ipiki
With the children stood a neighbor 
Old and wise with skills of healing
Kwona and the aged healer
Looked together at Ipiki
They perceived the little creature 
Suffered from a lung infection 
It was likely that the crossing 
Over sea had chilled Ipiki
And the playing with the children 
Had cut short his daytime sleeping 
After several moments pause, the
Healer spoke her words of counsel
"On our island is a tree flower 
With a blaze of crimson petals

"Growing from its slender leaf-shoots
Far up in the highest branches.
It is rare here in the east, but
Can be found on certain hilltops 

"Skill is needed in the gathering 
Of this fragrant healing fire-flower
We send up the smallest children 
Who can reach the fragile branch-tips
"When the scarlet fire-flower petals
After drying in the sunshine 
Are laid down on burning embers
Then a pungent smoke arises
"And the breathing of these fire-fumes
From the smouldering of the fire-flower
Can bring respite to the breathing 
And relieve a lung-borne sickness"

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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