Emmissaries during a violent protest

Emmissaries during a violent protest

The Ground Hornbill hoped
to venture on the road.

We en route to Alice slowed,
but he changed his mind –

re-sought the sanctuary
savannah scrub

and it was then we saw
– as he flew a few flaps on his gigantic wings –

his partner
down below

black and unmissable:
a bush pastor.

What light from those wild birds
shone these unhappy days

when men blocked roads
chainsawing trees, smashed waiting tents and angels,

lashed village trust
and visitor anticipation.

The visitors were warned,
the Festival called off –

but in the grievous after-shock
the great black pair provide

still a reminder
of the endangered

need for simple stateliness
and worship.

Silke Heiss
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