Osa's Ark: Flight to Lake Rudolph, 1933.


(Found poem on the Adventures of Osa & Martin Johnson)


The Turkana were unaffected

by the giraffe-spotted flying machine*.

But they appreciated the shade

that its 70 foot upper wing provided,

and from which they contemplated the breeze,

and the sprawling Rift Valley floor. 


Bored by their inattention,

Carstens, the pilot, offered some of the men

a free ride in the S-38.


They hopped on board without much ado.

Few in the US West had savored the joys

of flight in a small amphibious outfit.


During the flight Carstens pointed down

to a cow that grazed on the scrubby plains.

“That is not a cow,” a 'tribesman' quipped,

“A cow has legs.”


The translator pointed down to a tree.

“That is not a tree,” the Turkana responded.

“You look up to see a tree, 

            and you walk under a tree.

            That is not a tree.”


Carstens could not help laughing.


The Turkana gazed down at the scrub

which went past like a running river.


They couldn’t grasp the cause of Castern’s laughter.


Achirri Ishmael

Original source: The African Expeditions of Martin and Osa Johnson, Sikorsky Archive.... Martin and Osa Johnson shot (on-site) and produced “Simba, King of the Beasts: A Saga of the African Veldt" in 1928. Between 1919 and 1954 both pioneered the nature and wildlife film as a genre and form of entertainment.

* amphibious airplane (which the Johnsons named as “The Spirit of Igor” or “Osa’s Ark”) and which they tested out in the tropics while viewing and filming "wild"-life (and unfortunately "natives").

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Comment by Achirri Ishmael on June 9, 2011 at 8:34pm
Thanks, John!
Comment by John McCreery on May 21, 2011 at 9:16am
Wow. Again.


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