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Syllables of Drought

December 7, 2005

It was a wetter Africa you knew,
ancient giraffe —
more greenery, the sky a wider blue,
your longer horns more often used —
when your full size was less than half
today’s. The climate changed; you grew.

More than the tongue, the spots, your neck
is what your name has come to mean. When said,
the sounds stretch out, long As from Arabic,
the hissing, slurring F which spreads
just like your neck in centuries of drought.
And if your paradise returned, would you
revert? For language takes safaris, too:
a wetter word, you’re shortened to a shout.

Written by Mary Alexandra Agner of
Pantoums and Persistence.

  1. December 8, 2005 at 7:06 am

    Oh, this is wonderful! We have the science of nature and evolution and of linguistics as well. “language takes safaris, too” – indeed.

  2. December 8, 2005 at 7:39 am

    On the first read-through, I like how the last line makes me want to shout with surprise & pleasure. Welcome, Mary!

  3. December 8, 2005 at 10:31 am

    I really like this!

  4. December 8, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    What a wonderful, delightful, original contribution! Great to see you here, Mary.

  5. December 9, 2005 at 11:26 am

    Very interesting and very nicely done.

  6. December 10, 2005 at 7:33 pm

    Thank you all for your kind comments! I am completely thrilled to know that my poem has had this effect. I feel very welcomed.

  7. Ivy
    December 12, 2005 at 9:06 am

    Mary, this poem certainly lingers in the mind. Thank you for it.

  8. December 15, 2005 at 5:43 am

    The sound, the imagery, the pace and the turns — I love it!

  9. December 27, 2005 at 8:26 am

    A charming and original vision. Thank you!

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