Earth Song

Earth Song by Chris Hall lunasonline

/… previously

Air, thick with cicada-song, rises from the veld.  The three men recline on the sun-heated rocks, staring into the fire. Herb-scented smoke hangs heavily in the purple dusk. They are the tiniest specks in the timeless universe, each smaller than a newly-hatched mantis, in this, the place of the ancient ones.

Darkness closes in and the great African she-moon rises; pin-prick stars stab the violet-thick night. Still no one speaks. The older brown-skinned man carefully feeds the fire which crackles in the desiccated air.

A night-bird shrieks and, on the other side of the koppie, a hyena cackles. The young man, still fresh from the sprawling city, stares around warily. His companion turns from the fire: ‘Be still, my brother.’ The young man settles back.

The night wears on. Trance-like they stare into the fire. The young man’s eyes are heavy; he closes his eyes and tries to imagine an ancestor he’s never known.

A shadow appears on the far side of the fire. The two older men sit up, their faces bright in the firelight. The San Man has come. He lays his stick aside and squats by the fire, resting his chin on his folded hands, staring onto the flames. Still without acknowledging them, he starts to hum. The sound swells, its vibration filling the air.

Abruptly it stops.

The figure stands, takes up his stick, and beckons to them. They try to rouse their young companion, but he sleeps on.

The San Man motions them to follow.

/… to be continued

7 thoughts on “Earth Song

  1. […] /… previously The San Man unties a small skin bag from the beaded thong which he wears around his waist. He shakes the contents onto the fire which sputters and sends up a shower of silver sparks. Scented smoke descends. The younger man slumbers on, his eyes moving restlessly under sleep-closed lids. The San Man turns around. He leads the waiting men down the narrow path into the veld where the blue-black landscape is alive with the sound of night-time creatures. The three walk on, following the moon-bright swathe cut into the pungent African night. Up ahead, a long ribbon of eland trek across the land, curving away to be swallowed up by the night. The grass sings and the men walk, one foot in front of the other, a rhythm like a heartbeat, walking on through the night-time veld. A sliver of sunlight breaks free from the purple mountains, but still they walk on. Back on the koppie, the young man lies motionless. Free of his body, he soars towards the summit of the heavens on dawn-warmed wings, flexing his cruel curved talons as, keen-eyed, he scours the waking veld below. A solitary thorn tree reaches out long shadow-fingers, drawing the heartbeat walkers closer. They plough on, footfall after footfall, their footprints erased behind them by the gentle berg breeze. The sun climbs and the veld bakes, but now the men rest silently in its shade. An eagle wheels high above. The San Man beckons and slowly it begins its descent. […]

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