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Resurrection: A poem for West Africa’s rain forests

Updated: May 5, 2021

by Nico Arcilla


I stand where forests have fallen to chainsaws and great machines turning giants of trees into cargo for ships traveling day and night to faraway cities, away from their kin.

To the ruins of the forests, people rush in to grow plantations of seeds that will be crushed into chocolate and eaten by those who don’t know this story: what came before, treasure beyond imagining, here where they have never been.

Night has fallen too, and crickets sing. Hyrax and galago call out to their kin in the darkness, and shots ring out from hunters who have come for those who survived, to trade their lives for money.

Still I see the lit lamps of fireflies traveling with me, bearing witness, beaming as my heart swells, for no jewel could be so beautiful as they, and no night could be more beautiful than this.

The risen moon, the wonder of the world does not mourn the fallen. It brings them home with unfathomable grace, which leaves no room for mourning. Learn how to see in the dark, and you will see the resurrection, the triumph over death.

On a great tree felled by men, left to waste in a row of spindly crops, in a field that once was forest, a tiny bird alights in the upper branches. The fallen giant stopped me in my tracks with grief, but the bird throws back his head and sings.

Pictures: Black Kite flying over burned rain forest on the Ghana coast.

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