Daily Archives: August 15, 2004

Animal Voices – My Africa Story – Part 7

Houses in rural Congo are very open.  Windows are screened and only occasionally have glass windows that can be closed.  Even those are usually left open to provide ventilation.  Air conditioning is rarer than glass and so is the electrical power to run them. 

Open windows allow sound to travel. 

The early mornings are full of sound.  Sometimes the nights are too.  Waking up to the sound of a rooster outside the window is pretty common – and it is likely the neighbors rooster.  All animals seem to wake up at the first signs of light.  Chickens, goats, parrots and the neighbor’s small children share this trait.  That seems to be about half an hour before the alarm clock that you set goes off. 

I was given a goat which travelled with me to Karawa – alive.  It seemed like a good idea at the time not knowing what the refrigeration situation was going to be when we arrived.  After the first night at Karawa it no longer seemed like a good idea to anyone.  It not only woke early but every hour on the hour all night.

Lament of the Sleepless Night

We took  a goat
Wedged between packing cases and door.
Live food,
Refrigeration not required.
So we  – and he
Endured the four hours
Confined together.
His bleats of  protest
At each sudden drop
Of wheel
Each sudden brake;
Vied for attention
With Bam Bam on cassette.

So we arrived,
Unpacked the beast.
Entrusted to the watchman’s care.
The night watchman,
Who sleeps
Guarding my bleating feast
Under my window
Where lies my sleepless head.
That goat will die today!


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