‘The African Mother.’ By Reginè Perry

The pregnant leopardess tossed herself into the moist earth of the savanna fields, like a radiating topaz shining bright in the calm whispering winds, apes with their long fingers smelling mimosa leaves and chewing on the twigs, the bison herd chewing the field grass merrily and the hippopotamus lazing in the thick sludge. The wild revolved peacefully.

An olive-skinned poacher with his rifle spread fear with his movements, confidence gleaming in his eyes, he knew his catch was a golden mine. The secretary birds stayed still with their dilated pupils, apprehension spreading down their tails. Not for long, the wild felt restless, brushed swiftly into the golden grasses glowing under the sun, the radiant gazelles pranced into the coffee brown waters with glittering hoofs and frightening tremors.

Before his hunt, an old man from a tribe told him that the African Mother will love everyone who respects her children and gift more love for those who hurt her. He now stopped for a sip of water for the dry winds chapped his lips.

Legend holds that this land was the cradle of the African Mother, the mother of all our races; she wasn’t a goddess with charms. Her skin was dark as the night and her smile made hundred freckles against her dry cheeks. She wore huge anklets that made loud sounds, her hair was grey – held by twigs and goldenrod flowers and her face had grey streaks flowing from her eyes. Some say she cried and cried when her children left the savanna lands and others say she wept immensely while breastfeeding the gazelles during the drought, she prayed to the gods to send rain before flesh left bones and bones left ashes.

The leopardess was bleeding and she began to push her claws into the moist mud, the poacher knew this was easy. He aimed the heavy loaded rifle at the delivering leopardess while the rest of the wild fled with their heavy bellies, panic flowing through their spines. Three cubs were out covered in blood and mucus and their mother continued licking the slime off their faces and they began to mewl like helpless kittens; she didn’t move – nor did she arch her back against the poacher aiming his weapon at her, she continued to stare right into his greedy eyes. Her tail curled against the cubs while she continued to look into his eyes. He was mesmerized with the golden sheen on her brown fur and the spots spreading all over. The leopardess’ eyes gleamed, and from beneath these eyes, grey streaks flowed down to either side of her face, now looking placidly at the poacher. The leopardess had the very same streaks that the African Mother was known for. Could this be…..?

His eyes met with rest of the wild, and he saw that they all had the same streaks of the African mother – the apes, the bison, the secretary birds, the gazelles, the hippopotamus and all the other animals.

He let down his rifle gently and pushed it back. The leopardess sat patiently while the cubs began to snore against her warm fur.

The African mother herself is everywhere in this wild; she probably wasn’t a human or an animal but an omnipresent incarnation – to continue the breath of the wild, knowing every being in the savannah lands, the spirit of the wild itself.

The poacher moved into the orange burnt skies leaving his rifle down the grasses as the wild revolved peacefully – with life, with breathing – with no bullets or tranquilizers.

This is silence, but a chaotic silence.

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