Divine Beasts


Painting by Henri Rousseau

Divine beasts


Weeks amble by, anteaters,

oblivious of us, the observers and consumers of time.

They have stepped out of Neruda’s poem:

Algunas Bestias.

Out of the fecund jungles

of South America.

They are happy to find the reddish-brown domes

of anthills

in the dormant winter veld

of Gauteng.


With strong claws they slash open

anthills, they dash their whiplike tongues inside,

gorge themselves on termites, which we call ants.


What about the hours and days

that are fleshed in Pablo’s other animals?

Will they thrive here?

Will the guanaco, rarefied as oxygen,

with its gold-flecked boots,

and compassionate eyes,

be able to graze on the dead grass?


And the anaconda?

Will it turn into an ordinary python,

and lose its divine powers?

Shall we invite the wondrous animals

to our everyday lives?

Yes, we should.


Our leopard, reclining in a camel thorn tree,

is thinking Roman thoughts.

Impalas flee from him,

but worship him,

the god of life and death.


Algunas Bestias

Pablo Neruda


Era el crepúsculo de la iguana.

Dersde la arcoirisada crestería

su lengua como un dardo

se hundía en la verdura

About kruger01

Poet, author, translator Grandfather of five. Bonsai grower.
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