Global Lay-Correspondent Report on South Africa




Jeff Sphar-Summers, US

8: Wild Life


giraffes hide among the trees
just as lions hide in the tall yellow grass
crocodiles become rocks on the waters edge
as do puff adders in the dry dry heat

Elephants are the true masters of camouflage, which is incredible considering their size. Invisible to the eye while standing in full view, their gray skin blends into the sky from a distance. It can be a real shocker when you come across one unexpectedly.

Once my sister Jami and I stood leaning against a wooden rail on a dock near a rest-stop under a huge sausage tree. We watched a large crocodile among some rocks nearby. The crocodile impressed us, how well he blended into the rocks, if we hadn’t known we might not have seen him etc. We were emboldened with this knowledge and with the guard behind us sporting a rifle for our protection, when suddenly the crocodile quietly slipped into the water and headed our way. We looked to our guard (wanting to make sure that he noticed this development) and … he was gone … nowhere in sight. We immediately ran back to the car, couldn’t get in quick enough. Later, Dad explained that the guard ran away because he didn’t have any bullets in his rifle.

Dad always turned the car off whenever he took photographs of wild life. He would rent a camera and huge zoom lenses. He would leave his window partially up, place a towel on it and lay the lens on the towel to reduce shaking. That was why it was important to turn the car off. As a photographer myself, I understand this, but Dad (being Dad) had to push the envelope. One day we were watching three elephants standing near a tree, facing us from about 200 yards. The largest of the three started flapping his ears (a sure sign that he was getting upset). I looked at Dad, he wasn’t about to stop taking pictures. I watched the elephant start walking towards us. Dad took picture after picture. The elephant started trotting. Dad started the car, pulled about 100 yards down the road, stopped, turned the car off again and resumed taking pictures. I was frantic the elephant was in the road running behind us. “Go Dad! Go!” I clicked my own camera as I screamed, “Go Dad!” My mind flashed to the stories I’d been reading, stories with amazing photographs of cars gored and crushed. I couldn’t believe it was about to happen to us. I think perhaps I was even a little disappointed when it didn’t really happen. I waited ever so anxiously to get my pictures developed. I knew I had a great picture, one I could show Mom, my sisters and friends as proof as to just how insane it all was. I had proof … Dad was nuts! I picked up my pictures and there it was front and center, framed in the back window of the car, so close (in fact) his head and feet were out of view. Somehow I felt vindicated. Dad just thought it was funny.






Read the Poems of Jeff Sphar-Summers


Free Verse: for christmas, Piano lessons in the heartland 101, Stargazer, strip poetry, Legend of the Baobab’s Sin, Green Tea, Untitled, we all hold swords, What in the world can be wrong?, The King’s Court, Dethroned, paramount to my problem, You Never Came Out of Play, Memoirs of the Poet Laureate, Munchkin







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