Rainforest in the Sleep Room


The highway goes through

The Amazon’s brain

like an ice pick through an eye-socket.

First we clear her synapses

then she forgets her animals.


Our bulldozers drive through

the rainbow boa of her cortex

like a scalpel –

those sleeping coils

still dreaming up new species.


hallucinations we’ve blitzed

with ECT.

The bilateral current purrs

through her frontal lobes

like a forest of songbirds

electrocuted by rain.


Afterwards, her thoughts are nestless,

except for a few chicks

up in the last ironwoods,

patrolled by armed guards.

Scientists climb ropes

to monitor her stats,

bring motherless macaws

down to incubators,

measuring their wings,

weighing naked souls,


as if she’s a patient

in the Sleep Room

who won’t wake –

her dreams treelines

traced by the EEG pen.


The only animals left

are grainy films

on camera traps


and a recording of the last


whose still small voice

is like the beginning of the world.

from Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2017), copyright © Pascale Petit 2017, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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