Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Black Opal -- Part One

Mosquitoes covered his arms like fur
and he slapped at them with a vehemence
that seemed born of a fear that from the mists
the beast this living fur bespoke
would materialize and devour him
The beast's shrill screaming
Cut through the fetid air
Like a warped saw blade

 He burst from the mangroves
Eyes wild
Nostrils flared
Lip curled
Foaming at the mouth
and hurled himself ahead
Seeking higher ground

At the crest of Burbidge Hill
an easterly wind caressed his face 
the mosquitoes fell away
and the screaming stopped

He stood there hunched over
His hands on his face
and when he took them away
They held a soup of
His blood and dead mosquitoes

It took him three hours
to hike to the hut
and by the time he reached it
the sky was a reddish-purple
The jackals that made their den
near an occasional creek in the east field
were yipping and chattering
and collared doves
Perched in tree limbs overhead
craning their necks
stared down at them
with disdain

He threw his pack down
on the split log that served
as a bench at the door
and tearing off what remained
of his tattered shirt
went to the pump

After he washed his arms and chest
and rinsed black bits of mosquito
from his mouth
He went to his pack
and removed a small bundle
Wrapped in dirty rags

He carefully unwound the rags
and pulled from the bloody nest
an irregular stone
covered in dark mud

He washed the stone
rubbing the mud from it
with his thumbs

and then he washed
Bunji's blood from the stone
as if from a shroud
the Black Opal emerged