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Elegy for an unborn giraffe
I’ve never seen you. Your silhouette lives only on the tongue of a ranger whose name won’t come to me. But he mentioned the incident: you and a group of tourists ready for surprise and wonder. And perhaps the tourists secretly hoped for a little drama, something unusual, as one does, after a few springbok-speckled hours in the bush. He told us that your mother was attacked by lions. In real life, adult giraffes are much taller and stronger than you’d think. But you weren’t supposed to know that and the lions opened her up. And found you. The tourists watched in shock. National Geographic usually cuts away at this point. Shows a lonesome cheetah roaming the African plains in an extreme long shot. Something on the other end of the circle of life. A giraffe has about 70 litres of blood, that’s 65 litres more than a human. Lions attack in groups. ‘This is not a zoo’, a sign read at the exit of the rest camp. I imagine the tourists must’ve seen in it a landing strip for future disappointment, not a disclaimer for a bloody tragedy. But you were eaten, perhaps even first. The ranger told us that some of the guests started crying. Rangers tend to talk with a natural authority, but you won’t come to know that either. The tourists didn’t want to see any other animals after you, but asked to return to camp. ‘Sure, what would you possibly want to see after that?’ my sister responds with remote compassion. But perhaps a sunset or two zebras play fighting or the daring flight of a fish eagle almost touching water would’ve been able to, at least temporarily, quench that day’s long, giraffe-less silence.
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