I will never see your secret spaces
listen to the bold songs of birds
or the screeches of primate tribes
in trees along slow muddy waters.
Nor will I spy the silhouette
of the silent jaguar’s shadow
or the tentative rising of a tapir
or the tree-root flesh of anaconda.
Never will I shake the bronze hand
of the Yanomami, Akuntsu, Pirikuru
enter their dwellings and lives, gather
stories of lost and buried cities.
No, the Amazon will come to me.
I will breathe its ashes every day
and feel the burden of its absence
in the lungs that give me life.
I stepped on the ghost of a mountain glacier
my foot grinding cinders of ancient explosions
where eons of snow once pressed upon the earth.
Every step took me closer to an apex
no longer glistening white, but sere and bereft
of a history of bountiful meltwaters feeding life.
And when I took the last step on the climb
I gazed out over browning valleys, rivers
of ice turning to stone littered with fish bones.
A honey creeper creeps no more
Blossoms overflowing with honey.
A billion years of death is nothing
a hundred of years of death is something.
Canaries, black rhinos, grebes, shrews
all leaving behind them a question.
When does the death of one affect
the demise of another...mystery.
When does the death of a frog
tell us what to do with how to live?
When the creeper no longer creeps
will we stop trying to feed it?
Habits are hard to change, as are
the reports of those no longer here.