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I Was The Guest and He Was The Honor

by Kimberly Hampton Nilsson 18 days ago in nature poetry

Meeting my first Silverback gorilla

Daddy Silverback of Beweza Family, Impenetrable National Forest (Photo by author)

Many hours in the Rover

Crossing landscapes

Roadside towns and fields of tea.


Oh the turning heads and big brown eyes

Tattered clothes

Carrying siblings and holding hands.


Thrills of sighting distant elephants

Flights of birds I’ve never seen

And endless variations of brightly colored flowers.


From the lowlands of rolling greens

Towards the skyline hills

Fresh air cooling as the sun is setting

Clouds settle on the valley floors

And we climb onwards.


At last the daunting forest front

Thick and dark

Home to our closest kin

All reasons to shed my fear

And share my grin.


The village life extends up to the iron gates

Small and friendly

Relaxed and unafraid

Creating life through trade and farms

Enough for all to thrive

Food abounds from rich volcanic soils.


I am here to face one clan

To find myself among their gaze

Hoping for a gesture of relation

Maybe just one pose

To my elation.


I will be the guest

And they will be the honor.


We come from far away

And pay a price that may surprise

It trickles down through the hands

Intended to protect

And build a kinder future.


The records say they’re thriving

More babies every year.


To this end

Even the Pigmies had to flee

And live among the civil

Breaking all tradition.


Uganda has awoken

And knows its national treasure

The Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi


Our family

Our love.


Gentle Sleeping Beauty

Dark and damp the dawn was breaking

Small birds began their song

Chill was in the air

A candle lit the room

Warmth under my covers

Cozy by design.


For those whom life are lovers

This day was born.


All things were placed and ready

Aligned with ease and grace

Thought through

Fixed and tried

Comfortable and protective.


With sun comes thirst

And rains make mud

Fire-ants and stinging plants

All of this a great distraction

Down to the last detail

Tuck it right and tie it strong.


We were five assigned a guide

That made us six

All women carrying sticks

Plus the look-out scout

Up in the lead

A true ranger, rifle in his grip.


Should we cross with lonely giants

Forest elephants

My breath and thoughts would vanish

Inaudible vibrations under foot

Signals turned to trumpets

Sounding clear

Unmistakeable to the listener’s ear.


We began in the morning hours

Leaves were wet

Plus some mud

And then more stones

All reasons to beware.


Swift in a sunlit silence

With expectations for the best

We were told

All signaled by a finger

One must move and not be heard.


Up and up another hour

The followed trail became a ridge

Stops to rest and drink

And let the group convene

How much further

Could one wonder.


To where our gentle friends

Had spent the night.


Guides have their helpers

All starting in the dark

Moving from the last location

Looking for a camp of leaves

Then to track

Where had they gone

By way of broken branches

Eaten foliage and fresh droppings.


Radioed to bring us forward

Thus the hard work done

Yet a promise kept

Of meeting eye to eye.


The pace quickened over lofty vegetation

Tromping, squashing

Excitement releasing

Renewed anticipation.


At last a whistle call

Beckoned us to a clearing

There the scout stood to post

All packs and sticks to stay behind.


A helper guide appeared

Greeted by a nod and smile

In his low voice

Told us

Say, hello

In the hoot of a gorilla

You have now arrived.


To my surprise and disbelief

Kindly, I do not speak gorilla

Just make a low grunt from your belly

Please announce yourself

It’s only natural

For the kindred ones.






Moving forward

Just where I walked

Off to the left

He appeared

Belly to the ground

At last I’m in his presence

No where to take my thoughts

Only vacant introspection.


Anything could happen

Although I bared no fear

Wide open looking

Immensely close and unprotected

Time slowed to a stop

Grace had filled the air.

His black fur, soft and clean

Lying in a turtle pose

Chin perched on his hands

The silver hair a-glistening.


Dear God

Is it you?

Napping I supposed

Sleepy gaze

Big eyes half open

Then drawing to a close.


I wondered

Who was dreaming


Who was dreamt.


(Photos taken with my iphone XR)

Kimberly Hampton Nilsson

November 2019

Thank you for reading.

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