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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