Camels Glance With Disdain

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Animals in Niamey and other African cities are very much a part of everyday life. They share the roads with us. They sometimes wait with us at traffic lights. They walk beside our cars as they wander through the traffic on the bridge. They even swim in the river–well, I’ve seen the cows do that, once. Now, I realize no one really understands how cows or donkeys or camels think–or what they think of us; but in their eyes it seems there is something like wonder, or is it amusement? perplexity? disdain? Well, no one knows, but they cannot help but notice the differences between us; our two good legs, while they have four. Our constant unpredictability contrasted with their general dependability. Our chattering away constantly while they remain silent unless some urgency requires their unique bellow (who knows if it is a language?) But I suspect that if they could comment on our human idiosyncrasies, they would have definite, possibly unflattering opinions to share.

“Tired from understanding life
the animals approach man to be mystified.”
Les Murray

No wonder the cows stare at us bewildered
While the camels almost glance with disdain
And those sturdy donkeys with bemusement;
They, all of them, shoulder their burdens
Somehow finding contentment in the labors
They encounter again and again everyday;
The question in their minds must be—
“Why do these odd, two-legged creatures
Act so continuously, erratically?
All nature seems to follow order and cycles,
But these creatures seem to flit about
Like some pesky fly back-and-forth
One moment buzzing a reassuring hum
But the next an angry dive, then an attack,
Drawing blood and pain like a lash across your back?”

June 10, 2018
Psalm 8: 3-9

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
 all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

 O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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