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Trunks between tusks, fan ears held out, and eyes
Closed tight, they pass. Their bellies throb and reek,
Their sweat goes up the burning air in steam;
And each one paces in a whirr of fl ies.
But what do thirst and insects signify,
Or the sun that bakes their black and fi ssured backs?
They ponder, as they go, the land they left,
The stands of fi g their race is sheltered by.
They'll see once more the stream a great peak feeds,
And, throwing forth their hulks, white in the moon,
While a soughing hippopotamus swims off
They will descend to drink through snapping reeds.
So, moving steadily by night and day
They draw off as a gray line through the sands;
And the hot wastes grow once more motionless,
The cumbrous voyagers having thinned away.
a cherry tree
after a maxim by Joubert
I gave my blossoms and my fruit; grown old
I am this heavy wood that throws scant shade.
But lean in my shade, and listen, to be made
Sure of the hard ringed resonance I withhold.
a cedar
Look at me here. I stand
And grow still more the same
On this low hill of sand,
Compacted with my name.