Animals of the World Unite! (Part Seven)
by Patrick Campbell
Sometimes the pattern of events
is shaped by strange coincidence,
for now a distant truck was seen
painted in a ghastly green,
the foresters' green to be exact;
a screech of brakes, then up it backed.
to the gates of Deepak's farm,
causing everyone alarm.
And then across the silent air
they heard a woodcutter declare,
"My, what a handsome Tamarind tree!
How nice, a day's work by the sea!"
And when the lorry took the lane
between the man-high sugar canes,
and parked close by the Tamarind,
it was looking pretty grim.
The muscled man produced a saw
and asked Deepak, "Is this land yours?"
Told it was, with saw in place,
he started cutting at the base
of that handsome Tamarind tree.
Deepak made a passionate plea
that the Tamarind be spared.
"Two hundred years has she stood there,
renowned in these parts for her beauty.
Look, I know you have your duty,
but have a heart, sir, please don't end
the long life of my oldest friend."
The sawyer said, "No ifs or buts,
it's me decides what trees I cut,
so why don't you go back to bed?"
At this the little man saw red,
but when he tried to grab the saw
the sawyer threw him to the floor
and started punching poor Deepak.
His dog, outraged by this attack,
bit the sawyer on the calf,
which made the animals cheer and laugh.
But then the man picked up a stick
and beat the little dog with it,
which was a very big mistake
for that nasty man to make.
For suddenly, from all around,
there came the wildest, weirdest sound
maybe the world has ever heard,
from every kind of beast and bird.
You may have heard the birds' dawn chorus.
Well, this was louder, scarier, gloriouser.
The sawyer dropped his saw and stared
up at the dark blue sky from where
the frightening sound had seemed to come;
and then he saw a fearsome sight
which caused an even greater fright.
It was our Tigress standing tall
with her head above the wall,
like that ghastly neighbour who
is always finding fault with you,
getting all uptight and peeved
just because your autumn leaves
have landed his side of the wall
(or maybe he has found your ball!).
But of course the man next door
would never open throat and roar,
or leap across the wall in one
as Tigress now had easily done;
for with a monumental leap
she'd landed at the sawyer's feet.
A shout went up that filled the air
and suddenly he wasn't there!
No, not eaten, just pursued
by animals in vengeful mood.
Fox, now chaser not the chased,
loved every minute of the race,
loudly crying "Tally-ho!
Is that the fastest you can go?"
But in his heart he felt quite sorry
for the poor two-legged quarry.
He knew when many chase but one
there's only ever one outcome,
but thanked his lucky stars that put
the boot quite on the other foot.
Did our woodsman get away?
Perhaps that is for you to say.
Isn’t the future yours to shape ?
So you decide the sawyer’s fate.
If the lot of animals,
wild or tame, or big or small,
troubles neither heart nor brain
(none of us is made the same),
then you could let him go scot-free
and get him safely home for tea.
If on the other hand you feel
that animal suffering's just as real
as ours, and made much worse by man,
why not shape another plan?
Not too harsh, but one that makes
that sawyer learn from his mistakes.
Chair was waiting on the beach
With notes for her concluding speech.
“Delegates, we need a voice who
thinks like decent humans do.
As Tamarind herself implied,
We need a human on our side;
So I suggest Deepak becomes
ambassador for the animal kingdom.”
Deepak was totally amazed;
a farmer to ambassador raised
in the twinkling of an eye?
He never thought he'd climb so high,
and, being human, began to dream
of ali the glamour and esteem
enjoyed by haughty diplomats
in their strange two-cornered hats
while chatting with the good and great
about profound affairs of state.
Continued Chair, "Although we feel
we've had a pretty rotten deal,
I much regret our meeting's not
achieved its aims; it's been my lot,
I fear, to fail you as your Chair."
But there were shouts of "that's not fair."
"Madam Chair, you're not to blame,"
said Deepak, "for it’s just the same
when human beings hold a summit,
precious little change comes from it.
It’ s a talking shop; at best
speakers get things off their chest,
though not a word of what they say
is in the joint communiqué.
But this animal conference,
though at times a little tense,
especially when the big cat chased me
halfway up the Tamarind tree,
hasn't been a waste of time.
For now with your approval I’m
your ambassador to fight
against injustice; your shining knight!"
From his favourite branch he called,
"I’ll do my best to serve you all."