The Baltimore Sun

It's the oldest kind of story: Somebody ventures deep into the woods and comes back with a tale. Here Roy Jacobstein returns to America to relate his experience on a safari to the place believed by archaeologists to be the original site of human life. And against this ancient backdrop he closes with a suggestion of the brevity of our lives.

- Ted Kooser

"Safari, Rift Valley"

Minutes ago those quick cleft hoofs

lifted the dik-dik's speckled frame.

Now the cheetah dips her delicate head

to the still-pulsating guts. Our Rover's

so close we need no zoom to fix the green

shot of her eyes, the matted red mess

of her face. You come here, recall a father

hale in his ordinary life, not his last bed,

not the long tasteless slide of tapioca.

This is the Great Rift, where it all began,

here where the warthogs and hartebeest

feed in the scrub, giraffes splay to drink,

and our rank diesel exhaust darkens the air

for only a few moments before vanishing.

Ted Kooser was U.S. poet laureate, 2004-2006. Poem copyright 2006 by Roy Jacobstein, whose most recent book is ?A Form of Optimism,? University Press of New England, 2006. Reprinted by permission of the author. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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