Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Greeting from Margaret Kay Dodd

Photograph by Margaret Kay Dodd, from Expedition Silk Road,
The Hermitage, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 2014

“His people tell of a young Bushman who came upon a rock
pool in the desert. Kneeling to drink, he saw reflected in the
pool a red bird more brilliant than anything he had ever seen
on earth. Determined to hold it in his hand, he sprang up
with his bow, but there was no sign of the red bird in the sere
desert sky. Wandering from place to place, inquiring after the
vanished bird, he strayed farther and farther from his homeland.
Days gathered into months and years, and in this way,
without ever having found what he was seeking, be became
old. He had hunted the land over, and talked to the few who
might have glimpsed the bird as well as the many who had
not, and still his heart could not give up the search. At last,
on the point of turning home, he heard that the red bird had
been seen from the peak of the north mountain, and he took
up his bow and resumed his journey one more time. The
mountain was far away across a desert, and when he reached
the foothills the old hunter was mortally tired. With the end
of his strength, he climbed and climbed into the sky, and
on the peak he lay down upon his back, for he was dying.
One last time he gazed into the distances, hoping to glimpse
the splendid thing in the mountain sky. But the sky was empty,
and he sighed and closed his eyes, wondering if his life had
been in vain, and died with the sun upon his eyelids and a
vision of the bird as he had seen it long ago, reflected in the
bright pool of his childhood. And as he died, a feather of a
burning red drifted down from the great sky, 
coming to rest in his still hand."

Adapted by Peter Matthiessen from Colin Turnbull,
Tradition and Change in African Life, Avon, 1966

Many thanks to my friend, Margaret Kay Dodd, for sending the above new year's greeting and giving 
me permission to post the image along with the poem. Margaret is a photographer, publisher, 
and graphic designer who divides her time between Santa Barbara and the Netherlands.
May we all find peace within. Happy New Year to all!