AMAZON, I HAVE SEEN YOU

Certainly, the faster the Brazilian people get rid of Bolsonaro the better, but let us be clear: there is the basis of the production and consumption model of financial capitalism, its voracity, which is challenged by the flames of the Amazon. We must build together another way for living in society, other relationships between men and with nature.

Trees, birds, people... are burning. Bolsonaro aggravates the ecocide of the Amazon, a phenomenon started a long time ago, with the submission of nature and living conditions to the interests of financial groups. Amazon, smoke signals, universal language to decrypt, we can also read forests ransacked in Indonesia by agribusiness lobbies, Alaskan natural reserves delivered by Mr. Trump to oil companies, stifled seas, rivers poisoned ... Certainly, the faster the Brazilian people get rid of Bolsonaro the better, but let us be clear: there is the basis of the production and consumption model of financial capitalism, its voracity, which is challenged by the flames of the Amazon. We must build together another way for living in society, other relationships between men and with nature. We must understand that we are the guests of the planet, not her master.


I was in Amazonia, I lived there, I have seen. In 1994, following the Rio de Janeiro summit of 1992, several scientific missions were set up, I was part of it. But faced with the dimension of the disaster and the helplessness that we felt as researchers, I could only utter a cry, a cry that I tried to capture in a poem. I have the feeling that the poetic word can help us, I do not yet know how.

 

AMAZON, I HAVE SEEN YOU

José Muchnik

Translated from Spanish (Argentine) by Gerry Loose

 

 

I have seen

 

the forest throbbing / like a blood drum / the forest opening / like an unexpected love / the forest weeping / like a blinded river

 

a river with burst banks / like maddened horses / running scared /

toward other realms 

 

I have seen

 

brows moist / with ancient sweat / nights lighting / green melodies /

and the depth of dreams / in the ripped fields

 

I have seen children playing / the way children play

 

I have seen children smiling / the way children smile

 

I have seen children working / the way children work /

playing like the bigger ones / their lives in their hands

 

I have seen trees

 

trees felled / like ancient grandfathers

trees fleshed alive / like lonely kings

trees begging / for other skies to come

 

I have seen the earth

 

the earth in ashes / wrecked as far as the horizon

mother earth / our sweetheart / creator of song / and the bones

of voices / and of fish

a shamed earth / with no face for flowers

 

I have seen parrots crying / the absence of their loves

I have seen tourists buying / exotic feathers

 

I have seen cows

one cow / two cows / three cows

...

highways of cattle / nose to tail towards market

 

my kingdom / for a cow

one cow / for seven forests

one forest / half a hamburger

(a few dribbles of ketchup / as tribute to the tomato

a few grams of mustard / in the innards of bread) 

 

I have seen

 

a wise grandfather / whispering lullabies

to age-old plants / for their peaceful sleep

 

I have seen peasants

 

their hard hands / their soft words / and their unsullied hopes

 

I have seen poor people’s tables

 

the rice silent / honouring the moment

the farinha sharing / her modest joy

families reunited / in protective warmth

 

I have seen hope

 

a branch budding / remembering the embers

a loving monkey / a flower in its mouth

an old timer, very old / deciphering  clouds

and a shining child / scattering smoke

 

I have seen

 

graceful açaís / dancing with the moon

unruly babaçús / preparing to fight

parrots proclaiming / a dream republic

 

and a chestnut tree proud / as a king with no borders

reciting poems / for the return of birds

 

I have seen faces

 

all the bumps / all the trails / all the tracks

in unfolded faces / like fleeting signs

 

gentle faces

like the speech of palm trees

 

tender faces / like Xingú’s breast

solemn faces / searching in the haze /

for the light of an apple / before the serpent

 

all the roots / all the rivers / all the veins

bursting in faces / like lines of destiny

constellations of faces / looking for sense

looking for traces / in the contours of sadness

 

constellations of gazes / beneath the Southern Cross

 

forever

since before / the fire was subdued

since before / the axe was freed

since before / the Word was praised

 

The Southern Cross / root of light

and beginning of a silence / we have yet to hear

 

I have seen lights

 

dappled lights / tattooing messages / on the back of the river

lights burning the sky / so the night can / keep its promises

failing lights / in different guises

 

but the same suicide / the same sinking sun /

the same circular rite of death

 

I have seen

 

light resting on lips / after the first kiss

light which climbs onto the roof / to ask the moon a favour

lights caressing tree trunks / to discover the age of their wounds

 

I have seen waters

 

waters in all forms / waters as rivers

carrying ancient freight / in hopeful fleets / to the sun

 

waters as rain / falling / punishing / purifying /

cleansing violations / bearing forgotten stories

 

rains / revealing to the ground / the secrets soaking / in the rage of stars

signs of the fall / toward the ignored springs / at the heart of the future?

or just waters?

 

waters recounting / plant legends / that nobody knows  how to hear

waters as marshlands / like mirrors of mud / reflecting mute skies

 

waters as coal / making the shapes / of the last farewell

 

I have seen waters

 

as rivers / as rainfalls / as mirrors

as the cold cloaks / which no longer warm / the elegance of fish

 

Lost waters

 

groping / questioning / remembering

 

Waters dreaming / of a moment of clarity / in the thought of a lake /

of the future of seeds / in a furrow of new corn /

or the charms of wind / from the beginnings of love

 

I have seen hands

 

hands which know / how to build the world

how to be song / how to be mother

how to be chisel / how to be mud

hands of light / shining on jars

 

hands of honey / pulling out thorns

hands clasping hands / shaping the juices

in the heart of the cane

 

I have seen hands

 

hands of all races / hands of all truths

of Juan Sintierra / of Maria Pródiga / of Pablo Firmamento

hands crossing Brazil / looking for a plot / of earth to love

 

a pocket of earth / to grow a tree / to raise a roof

to nurture the words / which one day will bring us to our senses

 

I have seen a point

 

a point on earth / to consider my own stature

a point on a hill / to be a leaf in the stream

a point at the foot of a tree / to understand if my arms /

are branches or dreams

 

I have seen a point

 

a point in time / for a hollow of calm

a point in childhood / to protect tenderness

a point in youth / for an explosion of flowers

a point at my age / like a thick skinned grape

that point to summarize / the wise plants' sap

 

a point

...

to weep for everyone

 

for the earth in ashes / for the innocent cows

for the broken trees / for the mourning birds

 

I have seen

...

Amazon

...

I have seen 

 

 

 

Glossary

 

Farinha: Manioc flour; a Brazilian staple

 

Açaï: An Amazonian palm tree with purple-red fruits giving a much prized drink: Açaï wine

 

Babaçu: An Amazonian palm tree known for its large leaves, used in house building.

 

Xingu: A tributary of the Amazon River

 

(First edition (spanish-frech) 1997, Ed. Louma, Montpellier-France http://ibuk.com.ar/f_muchnik_amazonia.html)

 

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