NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 18

Our Massai Warrior Guide during our time on safari in Kenya.

The poetry prompt for today challenged me to write a poem based on the title of one of the chapters from Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. I found the book’s  table of contents from the groovy “Look Inside” feature of Amazon.

Immediately the chapter entitled “naming wild hippo” caught my eye. A memory of standing of the banks of the Mara river during the season of The Great Migration in the Massai Mara. With our Massai guide, we stood high above the river where submerged hippos wallowed in the cool muddy water. We had to be absolutely quiet so as not to seem a threat to the territorial hippo.

We learned that hippos can stay completely submerged for thirty minutes. Only small bubbles on the surface tell the story of who is beneath the surface.

Somehow I wanted to bring that moment in my poem, and I wanted to use some Massai words to honor the Massai warrior guide who taught us so much during our time with him. After a little research, I chose the words: God, Massai, and thank you. The words in italics are Massai words with the definition immediately following in English.

naming wild hippo

naamoni aiyai
the she to whom I pray;
you who stirs the sky,
scatters the stars chasing

cobwebs into corners.
you who named wild hippos,
submerged nostrils lurking
in murky water whirling—

a vortex of violence.
how will i know the wily
slip spinning bubbles beneath
the smooth surface belie

the danger? you stand like
a bulwark, the bastion
of defense for our earthwork.
we are massai—the work of god.

ashe. thank you.

--a draft poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

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