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The Hadedah: An Azanian Parable

But whence it came we know not, nor behold

Whither it goes. Even such, that transient Thing,

The human Soul . . .

—William Wordsworth, “Persuasion”

In our Cape Town kitchen, a hadada

ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), or

“hadedah,” mimicking its strident three-

note call onomatopoeically,

flies in, eats the kibbles left by Minou,

craps in a pot of Mexican bean stew,

and flies out, like the sparrow in the tale

told the king by the Venerable Bede*

that flies in through the gable at one end

of the hall in which the jarls are feasting

after raiding their detested neighbors

and exits, quid pro quo, at the other.

To which I can but add: one’s peck must needs

exceed one’s beak—or what’s a metaphor?!

*Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum / Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731 CE)


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