by Nancy Rathbun Scott

The savannah grasses blew hot and dry across the plains. ChiWara, who had separated from the herd, stood, nose to the wind, graceful antlers piercing the relentless blue sky. He knew that, before long, Kolomatambe would make his presence known. He could feel him, even now, stealthy in the tall grass, moving as a Noh player, in inches across the plains.

Kolomatambe was the best of the warriors, tall and well muscled with a fine broad nose that tilted to the wind, nearly as sensitive as ChiWara.

Kolomatamabe had been watching ChiWara for some time--nearly half an hour now. Why had the great antelope not bolted long before, he wondered. But, no, ChiWara stood resolutely, nearly in the same spot as when the stalk began. In 23 years of hunting--for Kolomatambe had been combing the plains since he was nine years old--the warrior had never seen an antelope--not only alone--but standing still for so long.

Puzzled as he was, the man crept forward, his dark skin dusted for the hunt and blending with the grasses and the dirt, nearly imperceptible.

In a bit, Kolomatambe would be near enough to stand tall and take careful swift aim. But ChiWara waited just a bit, his flanks shivering in anticipation, his neck high and curved. At just the right moment he would turn and look into Kolomatambe’s eyes and speak his thoughts.

And so it was. And strange indeed, for Kolomatambe certainly did not expect that moment.

Had his eyes not been so keen, the warrior wouldn’t have seen so clearly into the deep brown resonance of ChiWara’s gaze. It came upon him just as he was drawing the spear back to loose it.

The antelope and the man met there in the savannah, on quite a different plane, both standing ground, staring intently at one another--into one another actually--and then Kolomatambe let fall his spear and walked forward, toward the beast, larger against the sky than he, yet somehow blending.

Kolomatambe simply moved forward to meet ChiWara, who became at one with the sky and the grasses and the heated breeze. there was nothing to think about, really, because everything was happening at once and all with connectedness. Thus, there was nothing to contemplate or figure out--but more appropriate, much to experience.

As Kolomatambe approached, ChiWara lowered his delicate face to the earth and pushed his great hooves into the dry ground. With the strength of his matte black antlers as a tool, ChiWara began to dig up the savannah grasses, tossing them to the wind like feathers. He continued this for some time, while Kolomatambe stood a bit away, not out of fear, but allowing room.

In time, ChiWara had cleared a small patch in the savannah, upon which he began to dance in all grace, great hooves beating upon the ground, smoothing the burrows of uprooted grass into an unruffled pattern of well-tilled earth. What a graceful dance it was, the sturdy amber legs flying about, scraping, kicking, scuffling. And before long, Kolomatambe began to clap and soon ChiWara and the warrior were in flight on the vast savannah, with only the cosmic wind, the lightening clap-clap rhythm, the thunder of beast upon the earth.

By and by Kolomatambe awoke, not having known, even, that he had been asleep, or for how long or how. The sun had settled now along the horizon, sending pre-twilight gentleness to the plain and Kolomatambe could see before him the choreography of ChiWara’s dance. A small section of cleared land, now empty of grasses, squared against the sky. It was quite perfectly level. Only the long, narrow rows, broken by the scraping of matte black antlers against the dirt, broke the pattern.

Kolomatambe stared, enchanted by the beauty of this created place and he did not return to his tribe until night fell.

He spoke to no one of this adventure, but, instead, confined his hunting to birds and smaller game.

And when spring came and the great rains had spent themselves, Kolomatambe returned to the patch. And he was amazed, for growing there in perfect contentment were rows of small plants, more orderly than any nature Kolomatambe had ever seen.

And he understood what ChiWara had showed him and he now was ready to show the others.