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Inspired by silence, the pride
moves on, quarrels depleted
the bones licked clean until
even the memory of flavour
turns in on itself, go away

there are ghosts at
the waterhole lapping
and laughing where no
one can drink and only
the wounds stay open
year-round and the
fallen take pride in
how low they
can sink
and survive

they malinger with
heads straddled lower
than shoulders thrust
into the sand like goal
posts, like stilts where
games they once
played with illegible
score cards and rules
made for two but only
one winner still hope
for a round of applause
or a drink, so they
scan the horizon
day after day
for some news

and the pride carries
on through the silence
attuned to new sounds
like the latch of a door
or the tapping of roots
at a dried ocean floor

while the fallen they
skulk in the shadows
their muttering, news
to the world of grief
and inequity sold
by the barrel
that pride leaves
behind as she walks
with her banners held
high to the gates that
await and the garden
beyond—and the Angel
of Life steps aside.


© Elaine Stirling, 2013
–Image of white flag from