Zimbabwean Garratts: 14A class (no. 519) & 15A class (no. 414)

A poetic allegory written

By Prof. Ross G. Cooper

Dawn breaks with magnificent yellow-orange and red hues
Like an enchanting oil painting.
The railway tracks wet with early-morning mist
Bulawayo to Victoria Falls it eagerly beckons
A hired trip; Valentines’ and Mothers’ days.
Hissing steam like air in a pumped-up bicycle tube!
Inky black smoke – a Gothic cloak;
Coal as dark and shiny as tar
Puffing sounds symbolic of an eager old man and his pipe
Tracks as shiny as little stream minnows
Ballast stones, the iron horse’s audience;
Concrete cross ties, the spectators’ seats.

Passengers’ hearts rhythmically pumping to the iron horse’s gallop
A guiding lamp like an ocean squid’s eye
Thunderous roar of metal wheels
NRZ carriages pale brown and yellow,
The signal crosses yellow, black and white
Spacious carts gently rocked
The mighty strain up a hill – 14 and 15A’s
Puffing air like powerful pressured horse’s nostrils
Trees parting and branches swaying;
They herald towering smoke – a giant sail in the sky.

Low-level silver iron bridge,
With a golden dry, sandy river bed
Only one of two countries on the globe!
With black Garratt locomotives sporting red mouths
Wheels spun by a tonnage of levers
Locusts pass and jump aside,
Crackling their hind legs in colourful flight
Welcoming the driver and stoker too.

At Thomson Junction…and later Victoria Falls
The mighty iron horse idles,
Gathers its steam like a horse to its hay
Gingerly inching forward with a tremendous hiss
To a mighty, echoing toot…
Pounding off the rocks and distant hills!
The great horse enters wild mopane woodlands
Victoria Falls bridge strong in space
Multitudes stand respectfully and stare,
In awe, a rainbow cloaks its tonnage…
All are proud to be Zimbabwean.

The author has published numerous books including many examples of poetry, historical, educational, short-story and so on, including Sam Edward the Steam Engine, all celebrating Zimbabwe and its unique historical past (Lulu Press Ltd. and PneumaSprings Press Ltd.).

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