Prince of Darkness

By g.l. bass (the ghostbear)
August 2008
For Tumbela –August 2007


Still, silent,
Seated on the edge of the ledge,
Where the gorge falls over and away,
Now covered by climbing, clinging vine, bush,
And strong armed cactus,
All crowded together,
Seasonal hangers-on,
They’re every waking moment
Peering head over heals,
Down over the rocky cliff,
Where boulders, shoulder to shoulder,
Hold fast the tumble of the land
Into the riverbed
Far below.
From time to time,
When you least expect it,
Even, if you’re like Tumbela,
Or us for that matter,
Totally focused on the moment
Life has brought you to,
On will give way,
Break from where it has been set
By some invisible force, or hand,
Give up its place in life,
And tumble in loud
Muffled thunder,
Down, down, down,
Finally taking its place
In what is now,
The dried Sabie River bed.
But come the rainy season,
All those who have fallen
Will form a different purpose,
Take on a new way of life,
As they huddle into a rocky
Dam that becomes at first a pool,
Then as rain waters claim the Sabie
Once again,
Into a rapids where white water
Breaks over, and over, and over,
Before the river continues on again.

Except now,
You and I have come here,
To experience our own
Falling, our own change of purpose,
Our own moment of life,
I am watching you,
As you are watching,
Like some god from above,
Over, off the ledge,
Far below,
Six Nyala who are slowly,
Browsing along the Sabie’s edge.
They’re finding the sweet, long grass,
Growing in dry season,
Along patches where only springs
Give life to such greenery,
They’ve broken from the herd,
Wandered off grazing,
In what to them,
Is a heavenly find.
They’re moving slowly,
Their hoofs making little
If any sound,
To be found out,
In and out of the edge of the wood,
Far down below,
On the other side of the dried-up
River bed.

From where I sit,
Atop the Land Rover,
Up atop everything,
You and I share the vision,
The river almost a sandy road
Winding and twisting through the bush,
It turns, runs down to where
A spring has gathered into a cool pool,
Then continues on again,
Nearly never straight,
Always winding,
On to into
The forever of the
South African bush country.
But you and I know better,
The river is only waiting
For the rains to come.
Almost like you,
I can smell the rain,
Far off in the horizon,
That promises at every sunset
To awaken us
With loud thunderous storms,
In the middle of the night,
It promises,
The winter in the winds
Off the ice of the Antarctic,
Will bring rains to fill the river again.
It is August,
And it is the dry season
Coming to its end.

You’re watching them,
The Nyala,
From high above,
With every twitch,
Every shiver of you body,
Every yawn,
You are watching them,
As much with your nose
As with your eyes,
As much with your ears,
As with your imagination,
You’re really a ghost
Of the night.
A Prince of Darkness,
Just like me,
You’re watching them,
And you too,
I can tell,
Marvel at their every movement,
Their grace,
Their beauty,
Unlike me,
You have a different
Life’s purpose,
A different imagination,
A different thought process,
A different and more refined taste,
If not,
And I can see it in your nonchalant intensity,
A killer’s passion
For their blood.

The Sun sets
Across the woodlands,
Down through the bush,
It sheds itself out over the dried,
Winding river and finally settles down,
Into the canyon,
Filling it with an almost
Liquid golden veil-
And there you are,
Watching, plotting, waiting,
Your mind focused,
Your imagination entranced
Into one vision,
You’re waiting for darkness
To settle down upon and over the earth,
So, once again,
Then the world will belong to you again.
Prince of Darkness,
The black and white
The eyes of the Nyala see,
Are no match
For your ghost visage
As you move,
A shadow,
The dense bush for you,
Full of secret passageways
Only, it seems,
You can see,
You can know.
Once you know,
Where they’re going,
What they’re intent is,
Once you see where
They find their place
Along the dried riverbed,
A place where they’re sure
They’ll be safe
To bed down for this South African night,
Where they’ll be at ease,
Where they’ll be sure,
The cliff above them,
The riverbed beside them,
The trail behind them,
Where they can be at peace,
Let down their guard,
Where they’re sure
They’re worst dreams
Will never come true,
Once you see,
Where they intend on dreaming
They’re way deep into and through the night,
The ghost of the Sabie River,
You will descend down upon them,
Taking your pick of the youngest,
Most beautiful,
Most tender,
Most innocent,
Most fragile,
And in one silent, secret,
Impassioned moment,
She will be yours.
Her soul become yours.
Her blood will run
Out of her heart,
And in that one,
Magic kiss of death,
You will drain
Her life out of her,
Up through your nostrils,
You will breath her soul
Out of her,
Then she will be yours-
To love, to cherish,
And to relish.
You will carry her
Across the threshold of a high place
Amongst the well muscled arms
Of a tall tree,
You call your sanctuary.

But for now,
You’re watching, waiting, watching,
Waiting, watching,
You see them.
You see beyond them.
You know their future.
You know what they don’t know,
From up here,
Like a god you’re envisioning
The end of their life,
And they have little,
If any idea,
What your imagination means to them.
The sun will set.
The world will turn
From this soft amber gold,
Into a purple black night,
When only the crack of the moon
In it’s dim slim light,
Will evidence at all,
You are stalking,
A shadow upon the night,
Because then,
Prince of Darkness,
The world belongs to you.
The Nyala have no idea
Their lives are yours,
For the taking.
But for now,
You turn,
I am watching you,
Watch them.
Then suddenly,
You turn,
Less than fifteen yards away,
Eye to eye,
We meet,
Through my lense,
We are eye to eye,
Your demeanor ignores me,
You detest my very intrusion,
You didn’t invite me,
You’re used to being solitary,
Your whole life,
Except for some female decides
It is time for you to mount her,
Give her children,
Except for then,
You are alone-
Especially when darkness falls,
And the World becomes yours-
Prince of Darkness,
If you could,
You’d show your displeasure
At my presence and descend
Down upon me,
Just as you will assuredly
Leap out of darkness
Down upon the Nyala.
Except that with me,
You’d waste little time,
You wouldn’t savor even one moment,
You’d rid yourself and your boundaries of me,
As if I was some intruder who deserved
To be done away with-
Then left to the mercy of the
Morning vultures.
Prince of Darkness,
As if to say,
As if to show me,
What you’re thinking,
What’s in your imagination,
In one secret, silent, instant,
You turn,
Eye to eye,
You look at me,
Not really at me,
But into and through me,
Your eyes penetrating
Beyond me,
As if I wasn’t really here.
In that single,
Silent, gut emptying moment,
I capture you-
I smile,
Because you don’t even know it,
Nor will you ever know it.
Prince of Darkness,
So just as you will assuredly capture
The soul of the beautiful Nyala,
Before the moon rises high
In deep, dark purple
Of this African night.
But for now,
I have captured you.
And because I have captured you,
Your imagination will be saved
The beauty of who you are,
In all you glory,
In all your arrogance,
I have captured you forever.
I smile,
Give both you and God
Thanks for this moment
That I have been graced with.
I bow my head,
And yes Prince of Darkness,
Offer a small prayer for you-
My heart pounding,
I gratefully devour each and every ounce
From the blood
Of this very moment
That life has offered me,
I have come to find
The Prince of Darkness,
Poised above,
On the ledge,
Looking out of the edge,
Of the Sabie River canyon.
Prince of Darkness,
I am humbled before God and you.
But for now,
Darkness is coming on,
The sun has climbed down
Behind horizon,
Gold veils turn to amber,
And the dark purple night
Is swinging through the door
Of South Africa’s dusk.
I can no longer see
Any remaining edge of sun,
I give the world back to you.
It is yours,
It always has been,
Prince of Darkness,
You are,
And I have been graced by,
The Lord of the African night.
As the Rover turns back down
The twisting dirt road,
I turn around
And you are gone,
Out of site
Into the deep purple black,
Of this South African night.