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  • Writer's pictureSimone Dale

Bayeté African Bush. A Love Letter.

Bayeté! I greet you, African Bush. It's been too long.

Sawubona. I see you. I see your Egyptian goose with its thick pink legs and perfect lines, stamping its feet and squawking in the water. I see your terrapins warming themselves on dead trees jutting out, and on the water's edge. And your determined little dabchicks, their v-shaped jet streams flowing behind them, and the widening circles rippling out as they dive underwater for 15 seconds or more. I see the curved neck of the elegant grey heron moving back and forth in search of a tasty frog morsel.

I hear your sunrise inspired turtle doves and the over-enthusiastic francolin at waking. I hear the cry of the jackal at night. Lying in my sleeping bag, I imagine their heads thrown back, mouths rounded. A remnant call to wildness, tempting my tamed world back. I would howl with them if I weren't so afraid to break the night. What boldness for a creature so small!

In a single spot on the ground, I smell the sharp scent of urine and the rounded earthiness of a midden. In our world repugnant, in this, a signpost of a creature once here, inviting me further into your timelessness and into my less attuned senses - spiking the curiosity of the child I once was, and am, here. What will be around the next corner? Is it here now?

I feel the crunchy hardness of the earth and stubby grass under my feet, and always a thorn somewhere. The wind is sweeping down into the valley, causing a shiver under cloud, and a welcome touch under the warm Autumn sun. And at night, I feel my smallness under your endless starry skies.

Thank you.

For your wonder and surprise. For your well-worn paths leading to waterholes out of which, suddenly, arrives a waterbuck, slow and majestic with hooves heavy in the mud. Where the circle of my binoculars focused in on a heron gliding towards me, dropped, reveals a white rhino and her calf, grey bulk and ancientness, turned tragic fragility at human hands, quietly slipping to the water's edge. Thank you for your grasses, bending and accepting; they are gentleness and peace personified. Tall and shining bright white and pink and burnt orange in the morning and evening light. You remind me how to be.

Thank you for your trees, bent and awkward and thorny and flat-topped, their sunset shadows, your signature, telling me I'm home.

Ngiyabonga, I thank you. Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika, God Bless Africa.

This piece of writing was inspired by a short, solo visit to the humblest of humble little nature reserves, Weenan Game Reserve, a 5000ha piece of legally protected bushveld near Escourt in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This also forms part of a series inspired by a nine-month-long course I am doing, led by Judy Bekker and Kerry Sandison; Dancing with the 9 Muses, inspired by the book by Angeles Arrien, "The Nine Muses, A Mythological Path to Creativity." This one tinkered with by Erato, Muse of Love Poetry.

Photo: African hearts home © Simone Dale Weenan Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 29th May 2021

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