Three tall figures stand on the edge of the Savannah. One female, two male. The female stands erect, her ears on standby and her front legs crossed, one over the other, as though she were about to commit to a plié. In this pre-balletic state, incongruous with the withering shrub and without an audience, if you look closely it is only her eyes that are dancing. She doesn’t know how she learned this stance; it is just an automatic inheritance. She isn’t one to ask where she came from, whether she will ever be something else. She wouldn’t know how to object to the fight that is about to ensue between her two companions. She just lets the wind whistle through her eyelids and nostrils. But if you look closely, her eyes are in motion, vaguely human.
The two males look innocent enough, each one avoiding the other’s gaze, as though too polite to admit to what is about to happen, as though wanting to forego its eventuality, or ignore it until absolutely necessary. One of them, the younger, kicks repeatedly at the hard ground for a few seconds, which for some reason doesn’t alarm his companion. He is stronger, younger and less bitter and already regrets the future that is about to pass. His skin is wrapped tight over his bones and the design of his skin is more translucent than the other. With the sun at its morning angle, his tendons glisten like a jellyfish on the beach. He shakes his head, as if to say ‘here we go’. He is hit in the side by the older, whose neck is bent at the joint that connects his collar bone to his torso, a move that barely looks plausible. It delivers such power that the younger buckles, and it is clear that being subjected to such a maneuveur is not commonplace for him. With hooves curled over and legs bent at the knees, he uses the dense muscles in his calves to lever himself up. With a defiant look that appears more characteristic of human than animal, a vestige that remains from a long, long time ago, he whacks back. Knowing he is stronger he doesn’t hold back. He is immature and unskilled but somehow knows when he is hit, he hits back. Now the fight is in full swing, he seems eager to get it over with.
The older is more practised. His nostrils inflame violently and he knows he has to go into mortal combat unflinchingly. At once vulnerable and full of hating violence, his extensive body is a place of immediate contrasts. Impossible to feel indifferent, the ambivalence that he portrays is wholly satisfying and distressing in equal measures. His swift moves come naturally to him and come as no shock to the younger, who flexes his milky muscles, an instinctive reaction to fear. Looking as though she doesn’t find her destiny wholly satisfactory, the female has moved away slightly and grapples gently with some scrub. As the fatal move passes, both beasts look completely intent on ensuring the other’s downfall. At this climax, the only possible outcome is for the other to die, crestfallen, to the ground. It is the younger who goes down, his head lolling drunkenly one last time, in the air. Completely unsupported by his own body, his legs give in dramatically, lending him the appearance of a weakling. That the older has won, and can take his female, suddenly seems inevitable; after all, this experienced fighter has been in the ring many a time and pursuing another opportunity to pass on his genes ruthlessly is a no-brainer. He has more of a concept of time and of beginnings and endings, of what is right or wrong, never stopping to question, just knowing who to kill, where to eat, and how to win his mate.
The female lets the sand drift through her open eyelids as she lifts her head. Her legs still in their dancing positioning, she is elegant and defiant, which become her more than her obedience, as she follows the winner into the wilderness.
Published in ‘Here Comes Everyone’ Magazine December 2014