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Odyssey from Africa 14e

CHapter 14 King Ptoleny the 2nd (cont.)

Thus they charted weather systems 
Grey depressions bringing rainclouds,
Towering dark cumulonimbus,
Or the violent storms and cyclones
And in turn this processed data,
One or two days’ weather forecast,
Spirited across the island 
By the network of the flag-towers

So the fishermen at harbour 
And the farmers on their holdings 
Could employ this precious knowledge 
By it gain success and safety
(And this network of the watch-towers
Spread much more than weather data!
News and gossip from the palace
Added to a growing chatter) 
“Come and see the weather center”
Then King Ptolemy continued
Leading Han toward the palace 
With his retinue of warriors 
After mounting up a staircase 
Out they walked into a chamber 
Saw at once the large map table 
Ringed about by several scholars 

Who were studying intently
Fabric sheets and wood-carved objects
Bearing symbols rich in meaning 
Spread around the large map surface 
“Let me introduce our scholars:
This is Anwat, this is Jobas”
And the wise sagacious servants 
Greeted Han in courtly manner
“I can see you men are busy;
Let’s move on to our next chamber”
And the monarch led Han further
To an even larger hallway
Han beheld a world of wonders
And was breathless with amazement!
This was a museum of life forms 
Creatures, birds and plants and fishes.

All along one side were cabinets
Fronted by bright glass, displaying 
Well preserved, in life’s true colour
Specimens of plants and animals 
Many thousands in their number
From the smallest to the largest
Tiny bugs with moths and beetles
With a myriad flowers and orchids

Comet moths with four false eyes and
Lizards, butterflies and spiders 
Many of the mounted life forms 
Were endemic to the kingdom 

Bloated red tomato frogs and
Brightly pigmented chameleons
Stripy tailed and bright-eyed lemurs
And the little spiny tenrec

Labelled each with written symbols 
In an alphabet and grammar 
That the scholars had developed
For the first time on our planet  

Han was startled by the quirky 
Aye-aye with its melancholic 
Eyes and long and slender fingers
Used for prying bugs from tree-bark
And the predatory fossa
Catlike hunter of the kingdom 
But the most impressive creature 
Dominating the exhibit 

Taxidermed with loving skill, there
Stood the mighty Aepyornis
Glaring down upon the chamber
From a height of three full meters

Copyright © | Year Posted 2018

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