a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Will they remember, beyond the kaobab trees and toffee surging rivers,
coy sloths, fluorescent frogs, empress cockatoo,
dancing among rainbow toucans, spider monkeys, and sleek jaguars?
Will they remember,
the secret villages of the Kayopo, Awa, Caru, Akuntsu,
the Yanonomi, Koxinawa, and the Arewete?
Will they remember how this white man’s plague
spiked and killed again, rapacious
as the European diseases 600 years before?
Will they remember the measles, smallpox and flu
that wiped out millions upon millions of forest dwellers,
farmers, fishermen, shamans who had tended the land?
Will they remember how the forest, rivers, the cerrado
preserved the lungs of the earth, offered medicines to harvest
wise men whose knowledge passed generation to generations?
Will they remember how the rituals inhaling yakoana
drinking the bitter caapi vine juice, dancing rhythmically into trance
invited in the mysteries of xapii, of iwa, of the ancestor’s spirit world?
Will they remember the communal houses, the hammocks swinging
copper bright children diving with river porpoises,
the tarpaulin shacks of the dispossessed Guarani and Tikuna?
Will they remember the fierce tongues of fire, the smoke smudging the stars,
the fragile land cleared for soy and cattle,
the short life of rainforest soil bereft of its shallow-rooted trees?
Will they remember the Rio Negro’s treacherous cargo
carried from Manaus’ dug graves of the virus dead, São Paulo’s
rows after double rows likes bricks, between raised meridians of grass?
Will they remember the mud-slippery, crooked webs,
houses piled on each other in the favelas, Rocinha, Santa Teresa,
scrambling up hills beneath the benign arms of Christ the Redeemer?
Will they remember the City of God, the crowded buildings left to decay
order imposed from the fierce Pacifying Police Units
above the Ipanema Beach, above Rio’s glistening new highways?
Will they remember their president who changed parties like a chameleon
to woo the Cariocas, once arrested for his plan to bomb the army barracks,
judged by his own military to have “serious personality, professional deformation?”
Will they remember his imitation of the world’s worst leader,
the American swindler incapable of feeling, intellect or decency
who charted chaos to make his countrymen die and burn?
Frances Connell lives and writes in Harlem, New York City, teaches for University of Maryland, and works with immigrant detainees and asylum seekers. Her books have included Down Rivers of Windfall Night and The Only Thing I Was Fit For (R) (novels); The Rest is Silence and Between the Shadow and the Soul (poems); With One Fool Left in the World, No One is Stranded; and Children Kept from the Sun (photos and nonfiction). She has published in 32 literary magazines, the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post, and has recorded and edited almost 100 oral histories. Current projects include a short novel, The Stories; collected poems, Terrafina and Earth Silk; and recollections on a Covid-19 truncated trip “around the world.”