INTIMATIONS OF MORNING
Coming to wakefulness from sleep, I open my eyes. The blackness is complete, oddly rich, not unlike the smooth sheen of melted chocolate. I wonder for a moment if blindness has this same sensual depth. I lie quietly, anticipating the shapes of things to announce themselves, even if only in shadowy outline. But nothing emerges at all, only the sounds of the bush outside.
Baboons have begun to bark, the leaves of the trees rustling as the animals make their way through the branches above our tent. A lion roars, rumbling and low, in the not-too-far-away distance. The delicate chiming of bell frogs slowly diminishes, overtaken by hornbills sounding in raucous staccato. Slats of soft light reveal the framed outline of the tent windows, netted and thickly curtained to hold back the chill of night. I can pick out familiar shapes now, folds of mosquito netting around the bed, a chair in the far corner, the woven screen that encloses shower, sink, and bath. Fruit bats, calling forth evening darkness in clinking gate-latch chorus, end their song as the light shifts, rose-pink embers’ glow.
I slip out of bed, slide open the doors of the tent, and step out onto the verandah. The veld spreads before me, vast, quiet, secret. Palm trees stand tall along the distant horizon, delineating land from endless sky, and in between their dark trunks, a small orb rises, silently, swiftly, to paint the sky blood orange red.