Monday, 25 June 2012

Badak api* by Linda Hofke

Lost
in the deep forest,
surrounded by raging fires
an old Malaysian woman drops to
her knees, thrusts her hands outstretched to the
crescent moon and pleads,
badak api! badak api!“
but the flames continue to flicker and spread,
dance among the trees, twirling around her.
In the morning, this spot of forest
is reduced to tiny embers and the only trace of her
lies in warmed bones and powdery ash like the
ground-up horn of rhinoceros used by the medicine man
to combat fever and convulsion.
No mythical creature could have saved her
from the inferno. No mighty Sumatran rhinos dared to
answer her call for they must remain hidden
from the poachers who seek to rid them
of their pointy defenses; they have
no time to stamp out evening fires, even if one
desperate soul must succumb to extinction
a bit sooner than they.

*Though there has never been any evidence, there are legends about rhinoceros stamping out fire in Malaysia. This creature is called badak api in Malay. Badak means rhinoceros and api means fire.


Linda Hofke, Germany

7 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Interesting....and sad.

Naquillity said...

powerful story told in these few poetic lines. very good poem indeed. a sad story though.

Laurie Kolp said...

Emotive, powerful piece!

Marie Elena said...

Informative, powerful, gripping piece. Thank you for this, Linda.

De said...

This is stunning, Linda. Such a powerful piece.

Linda H. said...

thanks to everyone who has read and commented

Andrea McBride said...

Wow! Powerful.