Three Evocations of the Mutant Rain Forest


When young Charles rode the Beagle round the Cape
bound for the revelations of the Galapagos,
little did he know that war and rampant
radiation would turn this continent
he circumnavigated into a land
which would first prove his
theories of survival
and selection,
not in millennia but months,
and with like rapidity prove them
as useless as Newton’s linear equations
to the curving temporal attentuations of space.

And now even his special island is rife
with protean life and the unique
and isolated species he once
cataloged with such care
have vanished
in an onslaught far more
unique and constantly changing,
more fertile than flights of pure imagination.


From space, with each revolution of the planet,
the dark arboreal palimpsest seems to lengthen.
In the time lapsed motion of satellite tapes,
it swells like a gargantuan amoeba in mitosis.

Rio. Caracas. Sao Paulo. The coastal cities
which survive do so by a daily confrontation.
The lines of armor clad troops advance warily,
spraying gouts of liquid fire into the wilds.

Napalm. Cyanogen. Agent Orange. A poison rain
of defoliants and excoriation falls in waves
from the decks of combat planes and choppers,
yet the flames are strangely dampened and die.

In a makeshift refugee camp, a native Indio
from the abandoned interior, drafted to fight,
sleeps in battle fatigues by his pregnant wife.
All his dreams have been transformed to frights

in which the serpentine vines he burns by day
have rooted deep within their displaced lives,
to twine and strangulate the bloody umbilical
and suffocate the breath of his unborn child.

Elan Vital

Beyond the claws of bestial battle,
beyond the green on green attrition,
some say a force is dwelling here
which links its manifold creations,
a rank and raging barbaric spirit,
a dim but still awakening sentience,
that touches and taints our souls
and gives rise to stray obsessions.

The banks of thunderous cumuli
stacked against the Andes range,
fall east to meet miasmic mists
which rise in streaming drifts
from the swamps of lowland basins,
and in this airborne compilation
dense and brackish figures evolve
in an endless surreal cinemontage
of unconscious organic visions.

Some say that far and farther south,
beyond the Rivers Negro and Parana,
beyond the encroaching vegetation,
a retreating tribe has suffered
an enchantment and possession
in the shadow of the forest wall,
for now they divinate its growth
and foretell our changeling future
as they read the clouds’ collisions.

Appeared in Asimov's SF Magazine