Lobo

For Paulo Paulinho Guajajara, known as “Lobo”, Guardian of the Amazon, killed by illegal loggers

I guard the forest
its canopy of reflected stars
the morpho butterflies+++ the blue moons
bromeliads+++ the fish
the roots of trees
+++drinking in the river

I guard the forest
the children of the tribe

I guard the canopy with its toucans+++ parakeets
emerald
I guard the forest floor+++ with its snakes
I guard the mating jaguars

I knew
they would kill me.
I could not have imagined
that it would be a shot to the
face+++ that my body would be
left in the forest

Now
You guard the forest
its canopy of reflected stars
the morpho butterflies+++ the blue moons
bromeliads+++ the fish
the roots of trees
+++drinking in the river

You guard the forest
the children of the tribe

You guard the canopy with its toucans+++ parakeets
emerald
You guard the forest floor+++ with its snakes
You guard the mating jaguars

 

 

 


Click here to read Deborah Leipziger on the origin of the poem.

Image: “Amazon” by Paul Scott, licensed under CC 2.0.

Deborah Leipziger:
There are so many environmental heroes in the world and yet we often do not know their names. Paulo Paulino Guajajara, known as “Lobo”, was one such environmental hero. As poets, we have the power to celebrate, witness, elevate and champion unsung heroes. Telling their stories feels necessary in this time of ecocide and on-going genocide of indigenous peoples.

I was born in Brazil and I feel a responsibility to shine a light on the rain forest – the violence it engenders and its beauty. This poem began with a New York Times story about Lobo’s murder. I felt a poetic pull, a kinship with the words “Guardians of the Forest.” It called me forth.

I wrote the poem in English but have translated it into Portuguese. I think it’s even more beautiful in Portuguese. It has been translated into Spanish and that version is also very evocative. I feel the repetition – in any language – has a kind of incantatory effect.

To learn more about Lobo and the Guardians of the Rainforest, go to this National Geographic article by Scott Wallace who knew Lobo: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/defenders-threatened-tribes-warn-mounting-hostility-amazon

Deborah Leipziger
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  • Lobo - December 28, 2021

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