Passion Play in the Serengeti

Two million animals in search of the tall grasses.

An endless circle, with no beginning

And no end.

Languid walks along the plains,

The sweet grasses disappearing within days of their coming,

The relentless movement of wildebeest

The life-force of the Serengeti.

A passion play of hunters and hunted,

Repeating through the millennia.

At the river they wait, balking at the sight of crocodiles and current

And the bodies of those that tried before them.

But the urge to cross becomes stronger than the fear.


It takes only one.


One leaping animal and hundreds follow,

Young calling their mothers,

Mothers headlong, there is no subtlety here,

No gentle nudges.

An endless, bleating, writhing, swarm.

Following. Always following.

Breaking legs. Forcing younger ones below the surface.

Some slipping on rocks. Others carried into the gaping maws

Of giant crocodiles.


And still they cross.

Until something even more remarkable happens.

Some of the lucky ones who have attained the other side,

Exhausted, limping, close to collapse,


Our guides tell us the wildebeest have small brains,

And so it seems.


First one, then a line of animals re crossing the river,

Through the same currents,

Across the same slippery rock gardens,

Into the jaws that missed the first time.


Some of the young get separated from their mothers.

And so they return. Searching. Calling.

Bringing with them the young and the old and mothers and calves.

Because it is in the nature of the wildebeest

To follow the tail in front of them.

Crossing as relentlessly as their hearts pump blood.

We asked ourselves,

What animal you would like to be?

What animal is closest to your own character?

A cheetah, says one. Giraffe says another.

No one chooses a wildebeest.

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, Tanzania 2012 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Passion Play in the Serengeti

  1. Kathryn Weese says:

    Nicely written Michael! I too would not choose wildebeest. I don’t know if I could watch this with my own eyes…I’d need therapy.

    Beautiful photos!

    • Michael Wuitchik says:

      Thanks Kathryn
      Well, it is almost impossible not to watch. Crossings are a feast for the senses, unlike anything I’ve seen.

  2. Bill Hunt says:

    Great Poem! Great Images!
    Congrats on your new book – you are amazing! Well Done, can’t wait to read it!

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