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Odyssey from Africa 12c The Fireflower

Chapter 12 (c) The Fireflower (continued)

So forthwith it was decided 
That upon the next day’s dawning 
They would send a party swiftly 
Inland by a river valley  
They would climb to highland forest 
Guided on by one with knowledge 
There to find the precious fire-flower
And to pick its healing petals 
On the morrow in the first light
Of the dawning they assembled 
Several of the older children 
Matto, Lisa in their number 

Lisa brought her monkey Rosy
Kwona and the other ladies 
Made a simple hearty breakfast 
To prepare them for the journey 

So they started with the sunrise 
Running inland all the morning 
With a guide to go before them
Following the river valley
On the bank of that serene and  
Mighty river that today is
Called the Antainambalana
Flowing east from central highlands 

Up and down it boats were sailing 
On the river, stacked with produce
To be traded in the markets
Of the settlements and outposts

In the region of the harbour. 
Soon their path led into woodland 
Where they saw up close the island’s
Wondrously distinctive wildlife 

In among the forest branches
They first glimpsed the agile lemurs
Heard the soulful plaintive song of
Indries as they called and answered 

Eerie sliding harmonies that
Resonated through the forest;
Saw the star-like waxy flowers of
Orchids in the jungle half-light

At some high points on the landscape 
They caught sight of wood-built watchtowers 
On each tower a pair of watchmen 
Waited out a lonely vigil

When the morning turned to noontime 
They ascended from the valley 
Climbed to higher elevation 
As the air grew slightly cooler

Passing from the humid jungle
Of the island’s eastern coastline 
Up to drier highland forest
Where the heat was less oppressive 

Coming to a jungle clearing 
Suddenly they all stood rooted 
To the spot and stared before them
At the towering Aepyornis

At the giant flightless bird that
From the center of the clearing
Turned its piercing gaze right at them
From a height of three full meters

This great bird, though terrifying 
To confront thus unexpected 
Did not pose them any danger, 
Striding now back through the tree-line

To resume its midday feast of
Fruits, which it plucked whole and swallowed 
Causing trees to sway and recoil
Sharply from their topmost branches

Cautiously the group stepped forward 
Creeping past the Aepyornis
To the clearing, whence they saw 
Ahead a steep ascending ridge line

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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