The Crossing

by Duncan Jones

Upon the rising of the brilliant sun one predetermined morn
Faced the river deep and wide all those of antler, stripe, and horn
The dangerous, dreaded crossing that so many never make
Not for lack of effort, want, but rather luck or some mistake
The path was clear on either side, so worn from years gone by
Still they waited as the day grew hot and vultures filled the sky
Waited too the river giants, black, green, smiling as they do
The water dark and juxtaposed against the sky of blue
Soon behind in dancing grass would come the huntresses of gold
To push the great herd forward, ‘twas how the years before had told
Slowly tip-toed forth the breaking point, but then ... it scurried back
For barging through the great herd came another giant black
The huge buffalo was snorting as he stomped his way up front
And when began a protest ... he squashed it full with just a grunt
“Too long here have we cowered 'til are we forced to roll the dice
Safe passage though, oh there’s a dream, now wouldn’t that be nice?”
Eyes squinted as he looked up down his somber, broken friends
“Is this it? The final chapter? Are you resigned to meet your ends?”
“We are afraid of what’s to come, the vicious and the violent.”
And the sullen souls felt lower, and was everybody silent
“Well of course you are!” he boomed, “Unless you're secretly insane!
But the choice of going forth is made, there’s no option to refrain
So it seems your burdon’s flown away, should your shoulders feel at ease
Or are we set to year by year look down and beg them ‘please?’
Nay I say, no not today!” and some heads began to lift
“I will see you on the other side, be strong and then be swift!
So scarred am I from days gone by,” the brazen giant griped
“I fear I’ll be remembered as a zebra, how I’m striped!”
And smiles grew into laughter, had begun to change the mood
“That will not do, I’ll not go on expecting to be someone else’s food
Today’s our day to be the ones who shall bring the daring fight
Today it is our turn to be the beasts who own the night!”
And the laughter grew to cheering, roars, took hold a lonely spark
And the bold charge fanned a fire shining light upon the dark
Then barreling down the weathered path the lone buffalo did lead
And he crashed into the water dark with terrifying speed
And for one remaining moment stood the others, though it passed
Because while first place is not desired, it is much preferred to last
In an instant lept gazelles, and then a zebra, wildebeest
“Patience today, no virtue, do or don't become a feast!”
Ahead the bold and brave was splashing loudly, made his scene
While closing in from either side came the teeth of black and green
And when the first one met him did he thrash just as the boar!
And bellowed, shouting, finally living, “I shall need a little more!”
Then two and three were on him, and under did he go
But rising from the gloom exploded new that buffalo!
The great show was still in infancy with the lions on their tail
When was already seen a vision ... a lone gazelle on yonder trail
A few more ticking seconds saw a few more standing wet
Not one of them been touched, no more healthy could they get
Their figures beckoned back to others, giving calm and noble hope
As one by one and two by two they climbed that far off slope
He choked on naught but laughter, every time they thought him gone
Holding strongly all attention as the herd was moving on
“It must be true!” he taunted, “My mother said I’m quite the catch!”
Every time they slammed him under, he’d give another blow to match
Time and time again, numbers four, five, six, and seven
Came the crocodiles, a herd their own, eight, nine, ten, eleven
But they could not tame the buffalo, they could not keep him down
He even lifted one completely from the muddy water brown
A surrounding cheer sailed over, ‘cross, from the far bank to the near
And emerging from the grass came too the lions just to peer
The queen had stopped the hunt, brought forth the ladies of the pride
And as they watched with regal haughtiness, impressed they were inside
Attack upon attack was snapped, but none could break his will
And each time one made the shore they turned to see him fighting still
Disappointed screamed the vultures, and they cursed him as a thief
High above the massive hourglass, they swooped in disbelief
The thunder of the angry waves kept beat and moved along
And the herd swam quickly, strongly to the cadence of his song
Oh more than once a chance he had to make a thrilling dash
But the herd was not yet clear, and so was called another splash
Until when final members struggled, almost falling on the bank
He saw them up to safety, but with no help he slipped and sank
For the mud was thick and heavy, and his weight and age were real
And his injuries were many, but they had not cracked his zeal
And in the break of moments few, with the river turning red
“About enough for one day, no? I shall soon be off to bed
Now forgive me as I turn my back on you beneath the sun
I’ve always wondered, now I know ... it feels good not to run!”
Then into the deep untempered, between the lions and the herd
And as they watched not one of them dared blink or say a word
Oh what a deed it must have been to have seen the closing gate
And to turn away content and smiling in the face of fate
He fought and brought such fury as one hundred dragons caged
That the whole herd could have passed again, so shielded as he raged
They say it wasn’t over quickly, and the mighty buffalo was lost
But safe, the herd held each and every, and the river had been crossed