Journal of Writing & Environment

Gabriel Gatehouse reports in southeastern Kenya


Their footsteps still remain near.

He wishes for an ordinary song to sing them

about the Acacia tortilis, that nightfall tree trunk,

the umbrella thorn they shook for the twisted seedpods

under the Kenyan sun, the kudu waiting under their shadows.


It is not enough to walk close to death,

to attempt the presence of the Cape chestnut,

the way its pastel blossoms seem to summon

every species, gathering them near.


He wants another way to sanctify them,

their faces gone, their tusks extracted, their bodies prostrate.

The trail of blood blackened by the sun leads

to the pile of them, gathering to somehow save each other.

He imagines a day long ago when the matriarch

heard the roar of a male lion, quickly broke her

herd into formation, the young calves enclosed,

surrounded by the rising verdure of the elders, often dormant,

the gray skin, now grayer in its incandescence,

God not yet forsaking them.