The Alpha
By g.l. bass (the ghostbear still lives)

Wide open African Skies,
Sun centered ways of life,
Through binoculars as far as
Eyes can stretch,
Golden grassy plains,
The Serengeti
Dried from months without rain.
At the edge of vision's reach
Smoke entrails sweep
Up into swirling winds of heat.
It's hard to keep smoke from dust clouds
Trails of the herds migrating
They know
The Rivers course,
The meaning of rain,
The flow of life and death
On the Serengeti plains.

Down the Seronera,
Elephants find River pools,
Mud holes for play and wash.
Youngsters roll deep in clay muck,
Mothers drink and spray trunkfulls
Into rainbow mists,
Young bulls terrorize
Riverbank Acacia's,
Tall grass and reeds,
Leaving their own trails
Of torn and scarred remains.

Across the river,
Where the road dips and bends,
Three Lions defend rights
Of the pride.
Up -
Into trees they hide
From the
Onslaught of marching herd,
Old And young bulls who circle
Round to outflank and prove rank
On Lions of the Serengeti.

Tall Acacia's never intend
To be such friends of Lions
Amidst the change of season,
Or marchings of the herd.
Out on a limb She stretches,
Looks back across the plains,
And growls in low disdain.
She's not into Elephant games,
But still She maintains
These plains are her domain.

The Alpha Lion,
One sister,
One daughter,
The Acacia is their sanctuary
Until darkness falls,
When once again,
They will gather the pride,
Reclaim their reign,
Over life and death
On these Serengeti plains.

The Alpha surveys
Down river and back across the plains.
Her deep eyes like still madness,
She understands more than the rest,
How life and death
Will always be the Serengeti's
Ultimate task and test.
For years She's stalked
And claimed hunter's rights
To these plains.
She's even given into
The changing of Monarchs
From time to time,
Yielded them all children,
Had her families torn apart,
Raised sons and daughters,
Battled troops of Hyenas,
Defended her realm,
And still she maintains
Her dignity and reign
Over life and death
On these Serengeti plains.

To her I am but a stranger
Of trespass on the road.
Perched high above me,
She stands upright,
Peers down,
Growls, then roars.
Her piercing glare
A warning that She's aware
And has little use,
This day,
For a photographer's
Desires, cares, or camera wares.

She moves along the limb,
And climbs directly above me
Where a "Y" reaches high,
She hangs, hind legs down in mid air,
Rests her head and closes her eyes.
As I capture her at the length
Of my lens,
She opens her eyes again.
Behind the camera eye,
I come to “grasp” with her-
Eye to Eye.
In that moment of freeze,
Her eyes into mine,
It is clear to me,
How deep her cold passion,
How controlled her killer’s madness,
How unique her wisdom
Of these plains.

Life and death in an instant.
In one maddening moment,
She pierces me eye to heart.
From that moment
I cannot part
Her deep cold stare
From my heart.
Little is left to explain,
Except what the Alpha
Left on me as a mark.
If one can understand
Such beauty,.
It is clear,
Deep in the Alpha's stare,
Where pain and beauty
Are the same.
It is the eye to eye
Of life and death
The way of survival in her domain,
The way of truth
On these Serengeti plains.