- Written February 2012
As the ageing mind plays tricks with speech
Steatopygia behind; shrivelled paps ahead
As glosso-labials give way to palatals
And melodious communication begins
With a tsi-tsi-tsi and a tserr-tserr-tserr.
They would cherish the ums and ahs, the hums
Uniquely our own and resonating phonetically
With themes picked up from bird-song.
Glosso-dentals cackle as though an egg were laid
With the woodpecker hard at work
With a kitchick-kitchick-kitchick.
And after fifty bars' rest there are twenty of percussion;
Tongues click like drum sticks on the roof of the mouth,
Castanets and toe-taps keep time with horses on the trot,
Hands clap forzando, gathering speed
As enlivened bodies dance barefoot on the rock floor,
The twang of the bow, then the smack of the arrow,
Ostrich shells cup water and the echo of life
With caves and cattle, hunters and killers,
Honeybees swarm as they join the frenzy
Till everyone drops exhausted,
Tchoo-schwee, tchoo-schwee, tchoo-schwee.
Heads face the dying embers of the night fire
While charcoal tips scratch graffiti on the rock wall
Leaving not a word – just a simple painting
Which we explain in a language all of our own.
Goo-ek, goo-ek, goo-ek,
Good-night, see-ya, ta-dah.
Image: San Tribesman – Ian Beatty, Amherst, MA, USA