The Tortoise and the Gem of Priceless Value

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
The mighty drum roared in the arena,
its bull neck throbbing with the fever
of an urgent message for a town
still in the deep throes of night’s
fabled gift.
Read on...........

Submitted: July 11, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 11, 2008



Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


The mighty drum roared in the arena,

its bull neck throbbing with the fever

of an urgent message for a town

still in the deep throes of night’s

fabled gift.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


The drummer cleared his throat

and cleared it again. His short legs

rested on firm supports. His heart beat

with the ferocity of the pestle on a heap

of pounded yam. He looked to his left,

and to his right. His feverish hands

rested on the bull voice of the drum

and went to work again. He had an urgent

message for the town. In the belly of the still fading

night he had dreamt of a gem of priceless value

and its refuge in the deep bosom of the earth.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


The animals separated themselves

from the still heavy embrace of sleep,

scratched their eyes until they were sore,

and sharp as the slowly unfolding light of the morning,

and trudged to the arena, the clamorous voice

of the heavy drum putting the fire to their feet.

None wanted to be told by his neighbor

of what had transpired in the market square,

while he kept company with fabled sleep.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


I dreamt last night of a jewel of priceless value.

Her kind I have never seen before and will

likely never see again. Her light was like the light

of a thousand stars, her burnished face like the face

of the golden wayfarer of the gentle sky.

I intend to find her. Ah, to seek until I have ferreted

her out from her hidden stable and ride into the sunset with her.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


Ah, tortoise has come again. The loose-lipped

fellow has come again with his bag of empty dreams,

and empty sallies forth and back, his path scattered

with the mildew of last season’s empty dreams.


Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!


Ah, ha, said the tortoise,

your guffaws cannot deter me.

I have heard them so many times;

they no longer trouble me.

I will proceed right away

on this seven-knotted task,

a day’s supply of food

and my working tools

will be companions enough.


Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!


Immediately, the tortoise set off

for the hard-boiled task,

a day’s supply of food,

and his working tools,

his only companions.


The smiling clown of the sky

was at this time still girding himself

for the day’s task, his fabled smile

carefully tucked away behind the shutters

of a day still throbbing with the colors

of the night before.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


The fabled worker went about his work,

searching with eager eyes the portion

of the earth he had espied in his dream

the hallowed portion holding the star-kissed

prize of the star-ridden Milky Way.


At last, a loud roar went up,

just before the powers of the tortoise

had begun to fade into the now brilliant day,

just before the doughty twins courage and hope

had made good their threat to flee his already sagging spirit.


A loud roar went up,

for his powers were many fold rekindled,

the redoubtable twins gathered on the threshold,

pressing their shoulders to the task at hand.

The tortoise pressed his sinews to the task

like one covering several leagues

 in one magical bound.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


The light-hearted day drummed its way

across the mighty savanna of the sky.

The earth rumbled with the gritty labor

of the fabled fellow of animal town.

His feverish blows rose and fell

on the unforgiving earth. His strength

ebbed like the receding waters of the low tide,

but the dream manacled his hands

to the sweat-ridden shovel, and kept them there,

even as the merry clown of the sky rode

its fleet-footed horse into the gathering night.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


The darkening day brought the animals

from their labors like fireflies gathering

around a feast in the belly of the night

to the earth where the tortoise his strength

now ebbing faster than a fleeing tide

stood in a deep hole, a pick axe

in his hands, breaking the stubborn earth,

and his back almost bent double

with the rigors of the back-bending labor.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


Tortoise, O foolish tortoise,

have you found the gem of priceless

value yet? Or is the legendary madness of yours

on the threshold of getting a lasting cure?


Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!


I am indeed standing at the spot of the earth,

where my wandering eye—poor fellow—espied

the great prize buried thick in the bosom

of the unyielding earth. And my powers,

puny as they are, have bent themselves

to the task and will not give themselves

a holiday until they have prized away the earth

from the face of the jeweled one. Now,

if this be madness, I assure you sirs,

that it is indeed about to get a lasting cure,

for the more I dig the closer I get

to the jewel of jewels, the fabled prize

of my dreams.


The tortoise wiped the sweat

from his throbbing brow,

and kept on digging.

The night spread thick

over the earth. A silken

blanket, it spread like

a tarpaulin over the earth.

The animals began to drift

away to find solace amongst

the seven hundred pillows of the night.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


Alone again, the tortoise surveyed

the work of his hands with the sharp

eyes of the eagle king. What he had

done was great. But what was left

to be done was greater. The tortoise

groaned, despair rampaging through

the acres of his soul like a band

of urchins on the loose.


I am mistaken, he told himself.

It was a dream and nothing more.

And if it was no mere dream,

then it was false. I ought not

to be here but in the soft, silken

embrace of sweet night, resting

my tired body and soul, and

dreaming not false, wind-chasing

dreams, but dreams of a happier hue,

enriching both the body and the soul,

that both waking at the stir

of the fabled fellow of the sky,

will venture into the day refreshed

like a sapling just bursting

from its shoot.


He was hungry.

He was tired.

A battalion of ants

broke into a civil war

in the austere fields

of his yawning stomach.


A slight fever struck

a vicious blow to his temple,

and threatened to embrace

him in a vice-like grip.

© Copyright 2018 EZEH CHIBUOKE. All rights reserved.

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