Mingling earth’s air, I lean to listen
for the mystery of soft falling rains
to flow in my heart of darkness,
With love tender in every bristle
curling out through green tendrils
over the blank, un-bordered jungle.
Now You ,
You made in my image, 95% brother
Feel my finger of our skin’s leather.
Shared resources with no more need
Than leaves and roots and trees.
Once brought refreshing rains
Drip-dripping leaf by furled leaf
Now feed me on fruits of poison
And sneak in my home like a thief
Crackling into the fire-flames,
Fear’s line of smoke and ash
that grows daily closer, closer
Like a snake coil tightening,
Torching through my dreams...
95% brother, my pale-skinned other
There’s room for us two in the bio-dome,
But if the very last of me disappears
I have left a shadow to out-horror
Any encroaching Tarzan or Jane,
you’ll only have yourself, 95% brother
left to meet alone, memoried in pain,
as a blood sun, gorged red by our rage
burns away your water-estuary home,
Mr Kurtz, my brother, my betrayer...
The poem updates the Joseph Conrad story 'Heart of Darkness' to modern Africa where in the Congo region, the Western Lowland Gorilla is Critically Endangered because de-forestation, poaching, civil war and the Ebola virus are all threats. In the 1980's the population figure was 100,000. In 2008 it was estimated at 50,000.