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– From PA School –

Under African Skies

Aug 21, 2020Students

It was Voltaire who said that writing is the painting of the voice and, in Alexis Pienaar’s piece you can practically see the picture grow as your eyes follow her words. Senior English teacher, Mrs Mary Lloyd selected her essay, written earlier this year under test conditions, as being one of the best penned by this budding Grade 10 author. We hope to showcase more of Alexis’s talent.

Written by Alexis Pienaar, Grade 10.2
Port Alfred High School
28 January 2020

Darkness. A blinding flash of light. Thunder rumbling in the distance. This is a real storm. We sit under the protection of our small shelters, watching the lightning strikes as they light up the open fields. Small trees and shrub-like bushes momentarily glow in the night. The storm has been raging for some time now and these are its last, dying breaths.

Slowly the clouds fade away, the lightning dims and the thunder softens. A true African sky is revealed. What was just covered in thick, murky clouds is now a liquid indigo. It is dank and clean. Stars begin to sneak through the soft, silky sky.

The animals stir with the awakening stars. Insects begin their choir. Their shrill chirpings shatter the silent spell of the night as others join their singing. Distant owls hoot in rhythm, while jackals cry their lonely calls. Moths of all shapes, sizes and colours flutter around us, dancing to the sounds of the night. Then comes the real magic. Fireflies and glow-worms ignite, reflecting the bright light of the stars. The night is alive.

I stand up and walk to the small dam in the valley. Looking up at the stars, I recognise some constellations: Orion’s Belt, Orion’s Sword, the Southern Cross. There are so many, just looking down on us from millions of light years away. I arrive at the dam and sit on a rock, still moist from the rain. The sight before me is beautiful.

The once dull dam now shines with a white light stolen from the stars above. A bat swoops down, almost scraping the surface of the water. I see it again, this time as a shadow against the moon.

It is time to walk back to our shelter. I look at the river flowing into the dam. It seems almost as if the Milky Way has leaked into the valley, creating a shining white ribbon. In the distance, cattle moan. The dew creates a slippery surface. I can see my trails in the grass behind me.

The stars are my guide. I follow them home. I steal one last glance of the beautiful, clear before I crawl into my sleeping bag. I close my eyes, but the night images, sweet, fresh smells, and sounds stay with me. The songs of nature calm me, and I soon fall into starry dreams of the African skies.

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