Poet in Jungle

Sarah Sutro

USA

heading for the Amazon,
past the great
volcano Coto Paxi,
muzzle
of a giant animal
rising 19,000 feet
from its base,
snow covered,
waiting to pounce
resting,
waiting:
jaguar.

superhighway
leading to
rainforest,
mountains on all sides,
we head
to where
the road ends,
forest
begins
past dry hills
and mottled sides
of old mountains,
green and red like sage;
patchwork fields,
volcanoes in clouds
hiding
their heads,
massive white shawls
of alpaca,
wrapping the summits
through the fissured valleys
and mists.

a poet goes into the jungle,
into the green
with no ideas but
empty spaces
plants
to eat
heal
drink
communicating
by other means
with the
forest
and its
people,
the Sapara.
what grows here:
a leaf to heal joints
a tea for general
well-being,
one for spice
another to wear as a
crown
to discourage
snakes

ritual of cleansing
with wood ash and
tobacco;
living outside,
sleeping
outside,
listening to
the sounds of forest,
waking
to pale orange
light of morning,
behind banana
tree

*

the town called Shell
has seen deep
rainforest drilling,
agriculture,
cattle
ranches rip open the
jungle
land cut off
from the larger
Amazon
dwindling
numbers of Sapara
multinationals’
use of oil,
wood

the poet,
living directly,
in nature
takes pause
in the small clearing
a fire for cooking,
open air structures
paths going here and there
to the river, the road and
the new community dwelling:
just thatched roof and wooden
pillar
wading
streams
paths dense and
muddy

white flower
steamed fish
wrapped
in leaf; hearts
of palm;
necklace
of seeds,
painted
pattern,
monkey dancing,
eyes, bright,
young –
the night, dark,
jungle
presence
of jaguar, monkey

clear, cleanse,
cassava,
papaya,
fish
leaves
dance
of rain
on roof,
gentle drumming.
banana leaves’
silhouette
gives
way
to night
coolness
falls
crickets,
gamelon-like
everywhere—everywhere—
everywhere

*

then climbing out of the
jungle
into mountains –
pale rose
orchids,
among vines,
plants
covering hills
misty clouds
then cascades
falling,
thin white
lace
from the
mountains to
the river winding
below

*

up out of the floor of the world
gaining altitude
and distance
a wisp of cloud
like a letter –
a message
and now more clouds,
filling valleys,
obscuring peaks –
road winds up
and up, a ribbon,
connecting
mist and
mountain
land breathing sky

who is the poet?
nothing but the world
looking at itself
needing to see itself
in forms other than
its own

 

Sarah Sutro is a Guest Poet for Panorama.