The Matriarch

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

For Sandy
My beloved sister

The Seronera twists
and turns
A winding artery
Through Serengeti’s
Vast grassy plains.
Tall Acacias,
Their fragile heads
Held broadly
Against the sky,
Map the river’s
life giving way.
A myriad of
Deep green streams
Struggling through the
The Serengeti’s heart
Bring life and abundance
To Dry Season Plains.

Dust devils tornado
Their upside-down trunks
Spinning red powder clay into the sky.
Smoke from plain fires chase
The wind in search of other places
To burn.

Across plains,
From short grass
To tall reeds,
The elephant herd marches
Driven to find deep dug
Pools of dark water
Caught in dark mudholes
Where Elephants
Gather, roll themselves
Into cool relief,
Shower in dust,
Clay and spray,
And then extend
Their long trunks
To drink before marching
On again.

All in unison they march
Across the prairie,
Invading the river,
Embattling the shoreline,
And marking for all,
Pathways across the
Serengeti where all of life
And death depends on
Rivers and rain.

The herd abides by the Matriarch
Who leads them from prairie to river,
And back across the plains.
She teaches all the meaning of life,
Where the river bends,
Where there’s safety,
When it’s time to move on again.
Her daughters follow close
Beside her,
All her grandchildren hide
Inside the circle her daughters’

It is the circle of the herd,
The circle of the family,
The circle of life,
Over this circle the
Matriarch lovingly abides.
As they march from prairie to river
And back again,
She remains
At the front,
Her family.
By her side,
All in a line
Her family follows,
She is the center of
Life and time.

The Matriarch leads,
Loves, protects,
Forgives and Respects
All the herds’ wishes and desires.
She teaches the way of the river,
The meaning of lion prides,
The truth of midnight Hyena cries,
The safety and danger
Of storms in the sky.
Even the young bulls
Give her respect
And understand
They owe their lives
To her caring heart,
And plains wisdom
She wears so deeply in her eyes.

As years pass by,
The Matriarch leads
Sisters, Daughters,
Young bulls and Children
From migration to migration,
From days of dry, parched plains,
To entrenched and drenched
Times of rain.
The Matriarch remains royalty
Of the Serengeti plains.
Even the lions give way
And concede her reign.
She protects, guides, and
Teaches all the herd
The trials and truths
Of life
On the Serengeti Plains.

While the Matriarch may
Leave the herd one day,
And find her final
Sacred place
Along the cool, deep grass
Of the Seronera,

The herd will always wear
Her spirit in their hearts.
Another will assume her reign,
And continue the story
The Matriarch began.
Her legacy of love and family
Will forever remain
The spirit of life
Upon the Serengeti plains.