Hi-8 by Mack W. Mani


The following video is by all accounts
original and un-doctored.

The time stamp reads:
23:11 | 07/05/1989
The location, superimposed:
Somewhere in the Masai Mara.

Grainy footage of ivory burning
park rangers and government soldiers
gathered around the flames,
their automatic weapons
slung over shoulders,
smoke roiling out of the pits
birthing an auburn moon.

As the camera zooms in,
we begin to make out the shapes
of individual tusks, all pointing
towards the Serengeti sky,
stacked together in mounds
as large as city buses,
leaned against them are ornate,
illicit statues recovered from
the hands of local poachers.

A tall ranger enters frame
and feeds a bundle of
colobus monkey skins
into the pyre.

And it begins.

A monstrous roar,
like a landslide in the night
and everyone rears back,
then, for a moment,
only the sound of burning.

No one seems to expect
what happens next,
the survivors would later
surmise a surprise stampede
or wild animal attack,
the chorus of everyone present:
It all happened so fast.

The footage only lasts
for seven more seconds,
but when properly slowed,
the effect is both
immediate and striking.

Frame by frame
something emerges
from the flames
you can see it,
a dark, gargantuan figure,
pushing its way
up through the tusks,
it rears its head
and begins pulling itself
out of the pyre,
the release scatters
ash and cinder
illuminating a
high-domed head
and indented brow
that some claim
to recognize as
the shadow-shape
of an ancient mammoth.

The first person screams,
the camera shakes
and then,
there is only static.

Mack W. Mani is an American poet and author. His work has appeared in various literary magazines including Neon, NewMyths, The Pedestal Magazine, and Polu Texni. He currently lives in Portland, OR.

Previous                                                                            Issue Eighteen                                                                            Next