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The Charge of Sixpences -- a buffalo hunt in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).     Date: 1854
Nuwara Eliya

 

Nuwara Eliya is a town in the mountains of Sri Lanka where Samuel White Baker, artist and big game hunter, set up an agricultural community from where he brutally slaughtered many hundreds of animals.   

 

 

The shore holds no footprints

where the big game hunter

once stood knee-deep in the lake,

the buffalo cornered,

 

its bellowing about to unecho

with its blood in the water.

 

The sum of the breath

of all the creatures he hunted

is now dust

on tusk and horn

 

or bone fragments

buried under scrub.

The prey was the island,

its land a trophy.

 

Its edges always uneasy –

always pounded by currents

at cross-purposes

full of separations,

 

divisions,

invasion, colonisation

bedded down

in the pestle and mortar of water.

 

 

© Rebecca Gethin

Picture 10546836, illustration by Samuel White Baker, 1854

 

 

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. She had two pamphlets published in 2017: All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press (who also previously published her full collection and two novels) and A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press. She has been a Hawthornden Scholar and has had a Pushcart nomination. She edited A Poetry of Elephants, an anthology of poems to raise  money for DSWT, an elephant orphanage in Kenya which was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award. She currently runs the Poetry School Seminar in Plymouth every month. Her website is www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com