A River from "The State Of The Planet"
By Robert Hass
The people who live in Tena, on the Napo River,
Say that the black, viscous stuff that pools in the selva
Is the blood of a rainbow boa curled in the earth’s core.
The great forests in that forest house ten thousands of kinds
Of beetle, reptiles no human eye has ever seen changing
Color on the hot, green, hardly changing leaves
Whenever a faint breeze stirs them. In the understory
Bromeliads and orchids whose flecked petals and womb-
Or mouthlike flowers are the shapes of desire
In human dreams. And butterflies, larger than a child’s palm
Held up to catch a ball or ward off fear. Along the river
Wide-leaved banyans where flocks of raucous parrots,
Fruit-eaters and seed-eaters, rise in startled flares
Of red and yellow and bright green. It will seem like poetry
Forgetting its promise to be sober to say that the rosy shinings
In the thick brown current are small dolphins rising
To the surface where gouts of oil are oozing from the banks.
Oil companies want the oil, of course, and energy companies
Want the current which the river dolphins ride as if
The power of life the river gathers to itself were purely play,
were the living force in things and purely play.