Camped at Nambwa

by Elaine Edwards

Lulled by the burbling Mashe River,
babblers, piping wagtails,
wind moving in the acacias,
I sit on my camp chair
and sew a button on my shorts.

The crack of a branch –
I dive for the tent.
Great grey ghosts surround me
a forest of trees and trunks
moving towards the river.

I hear the plop of dung,
smell the steaming vegetation,
hear tummies rumbling,
smell dust and my own sweat,
see a trunk curl into the tree,
hear the swish of leaves.

Two young bulls come to my door,
peer through the gauze enquiringly.
I can count each prickly eyelash.
I sit quite still, aware of clammy hands
and pounding heart.

At last they move away.
Later I hear splashing
and the hippos’ furious snorts
as they swim across the river.

How long they stay,
how long I sit and wait
I do not know,
but when I finally look down
I’m clutching my shorts in one hand
and the needle in the other.

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