Animal Kingdom (Hour 14)

Their tales trail after me
since I was told of them
from when my head was at my knees.

Mbeku, the tortoise,
he is the chief con man.
He called his name, “Everybody”
so he could own and eat
the due meant for everyone
when animals went up to the sky for a meeting.
Each time my eyes spot a tortoise,
I keep wondering why he chose to be that crafty.
Yet, I have seen people like him in the human kingdom.

Okili, the bird,
she is the impatient mother bird
that won’t sit tight to build her nest
like Nzia, her peer, did.
Nzia’s nest will keep the rains out,
it will take the sun’s heat away.
But here is Okili’s nest,
it can’t hold off a drop of rain
or keep the sun’s heat out.
Yet, I have seen people like her in the human kingdom.

Nchi, the greater cane rat,
he is the one who asked the hand of
a king’s daughter in marriage.
He even contested with a human being
to compete for the beautiful bride.
If it wasn’t for folk tale or fiction,
how could anyone conceive a story like that?
Yet, I have seen people like him in the human kingdom.

Their tales trail after me
since I was told of them
from when my head was at my knees.

Our antagonist, the tortoise, comes to mind again.
All birds lent him wings so he could fly with them to the sky.
After he deceived all the birds, they took back their wings,
and he had to fall back to earth.
That, they said, is why the tortoise’s shell is cracked.
Such lofty tale!
Yet, I have seen people like that in the human kingdom.

5 thoughts on “Animal Kingdom (Hour 14)

  1. This is, hands down, my favorite poem. I love how you connected all these stories and folk tales and especially the line- “Yet, I have seen people like him in the human kingdom”.
    I loved the stories mentioned and your take on them. These tales have existed for a long time, we heard them long before we even remember, still we somehow miss the fact how these influence our perceptions, our thoughts.
    This poem is a wonderful reminder and a delightful read. Really well-written! ^^

  2. The connection of folklore to humans that exist today is masterful-those allegorical stories are still relevant even after being handed down for generations. Human nature has not changed. The repetition of ‘And yet I have seen people like that in the human kingdom,” is very effective, almost musical.

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