A poem: The journey of a safari guide student

Gary Ray left the corporate world in Joburg to embark on a dramatic change to his life - to train as a professional safari guide then to live and work in Africa's bushveld. He was so impacted on by nature while training with EcoTraining, that he wrote this poem during his one year course.



I am an old buck, to a new found friend
I come from afar, a beginning and not to an end.

I see a burning ball sinking over the edge
It leaves the fading sky, a purple orange wedge.

I look to the night and see the fabric of space
With pinpricks of light scattered all over the place

In times to come, these will be as a sign,
The Southern Cross, Scorpio and Orion

All will wonder from where we did come
There will be stories and calculus and more to sum

Waxing and waning, gibbous and crescent
Inyanga in all her glory, shines iridescent.


The night sky

Our planet, victim of fire balls, meteorites and ancient star dust,
Minerals and deposits which bubbled and formed an unsteady crust.

The sky lights up with thunder and rain
It delivers the oceans, which all look the same

From deep within, flows molten rock
Settling and cooling to the universal clock

Igneous and Metamorphic to weathered sandstone
Aeons of erosion uncovering secrets in bone

Nitrogen, oxygen and carbon molecules abound
A spark of life, is fired underground

It starts up the ladder, an evolutionary march
From simple carbohydrate to more complex starch


Mountains and valleys

From plant photosynthesis and gaseous exchange,
All forms of life are about to change

I am an old buck to a new found friend,
This beginning has many a branch and many a bend

A genetic river where many will start
With the flutter of life and the beat of a heart

Many will pass and never be known,
Archeopteryx Lithographica – “ancient wing inscribed in stone”

From bat to gull, feather to wing,
The new morning chorus do many a bird sing

From amphibian to reptile, frog to snake
The winding code, what bend will it take?


From herbivore to carnivore, from zebra to lion
Suddenly, the code jumps, Homo Rectus gives the first sign

Our paths diverge, they criss and they cross
I watch, I know, one day, man will be boss

We are all so different, between you and me
Phylum and class, part of Taxonomy

You, of family Homininae, I am family Bovinae
I walk on hoofed feet and you tread Plantigrade

Some eat meat, grass, and some insecta
Some interspecific, others, a territorial sector

Some dig and dung creating palatable lawn
Others paste and spray, fragrance of popcorn


Termite mount

Fungi and termites, they decompose
In tunnels and towers, all forms of cellulose

My senses are acute, I smell with the air
I have seen your brother and am very aware

I am an old buck, to a new friend found
I see you out walking with a firestick of sound

The city, your past, you have moved from your home
Over the street, the field, into my biome

Savanna, grass underneath and woody shade above
This is the food and the trees that I love

I hear the wind blowing, is that the bush talking
Is that you and your guests, all out walking?

Hush brother hush, my home is of silence
The only echoes made, from predator violence.

After listening and learning and now
a field guide I feel our bond, with you by my side.

No more will I hear the boom of a gun
You and I, in harmony, under the same sun.


Walking in the bush

I now see you, not foe from the past
But as a trustworthy friend is all that I ask.

Sometimes we rest in quiet solitude
But this passing moment we must now conclude

For we are old bucks who have travelled a long way
Through the ages of time to this brand new day

Take time to stop, listen, smell and look up
See the burning ball sinking over the edge

Watch the fading sky, the purple orange wedge
And know, that we are here, for each other, and for all

To wait, for tomorrow, for a new burning ball.