Bull ’Gator’s Lament
Several years ago, I wrote Bull ’Gator’s Lament as a performance piece. Storytelling does not readily render the written word. I have included photos of alligators in past posts, so just for fun, here is an image of a pelican in a parking lot. I photographed the bird at Everglades National Park. Visits to the Everglades and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge shaped the persona of Bull ’Gator in my personal universe.
What’s that man lookin’ at, down here in this cypress swamp, so thick with branches that sun barely gets through? He’s lookin’ at me, Old Bull ’Gator, and I’m lookin’ at him. Why don’t you come on over for dinner?
Speaking of dinner, you should have been here when I grabbed that turtle from his sunny spot over yonder by the water hyacinths. Those tourists thought a riffle shot had gone off when I broke through to meat. Fish, man, bird, or turtle, I get my dinner.
Sometimes, though, a man eats us. He’ll come down to this swamp and put a bullet in a ’gator’s brain. Those poachers don’t waste any time. They skin the ’gator out right here and cut up the tail meat for Cajun delight. The hide gets made into boots.
The poachers never got me, though. Bigger ’gators missed their chance, too. I had to be careful when I was young because we’ve been known to eat our own. But now, I’m king of this here swamp.
Springtime is my favorite time of year, with Spanish Moss fluttering in the breeze like curtains in an old mansion house. That’s when I get to bellowing. My bellows echo off the cypress trunks and all through the swamp. Those lady ’gator’s bellow right back. When one of them judges Old Bull fit, we spin like two demons in a whirlpool.
Soon, she’ll be building a nest out of mud and sticks. That fierce old momma ’gator hears those young’uns grunting when the eggs hatch. She gently pulls the nest apart and tenderly frees the baby ’gators. That’s when she won’t want Old Bull around because we’ve been known to eat our own.
Maybe I’ll just wander off and watch those fishing boats go by. Perhaps one of them will flip over. Man, fish, bird, or turtle, I get my dinner.
Look over yonder at those little ’gators sunning themselves on their momma’s snout. I believe one of them is a baby bull. He will have to grow some before he can be king of my swamp.
A king of the swamp singing. All photos in this post by Ray Zimmerman.