Amazon Rainforest Poetry…Lazy Afternoon

I wrote this poem while sitting alone in a canoe in the Amazon Rainforest..my friend, a local, had gone into the forest to look for a sloth to show to me and as that probably meant leaving me and climbing trees, he thought I’d be safer in the canoe.

The forest and river were quiet except for the hum of insects and the occasional bird cry. I felt overwhelmed by the vastness and beauty of the place and unbelievably happy.

My poem was picked up by the publisher of a children’s book..I granted her request to use it to educate children about the forest and the use of poetry to express feelings and ideas.

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Aloneness..in the Amazon Rainforest.

Have you ever known complete aloneness. I mean no people, no tv, no Wi-fi, no radio, no phone, utter silence except for wildlife for days on end.

I had this experience on one trip to the rainforest in the Amazon. My partner had to leave to go on a job. My usual companion, an elderly man who didn’t speak English, but seemed to understand my poor Portuguese, had gone to visit relatives. So I was on my own for a week.

I was not afraid, I knew the risks and prepared for them. I looked out for poisonous snakes, jumping spiders, Jaguars, caiman…they were not the problem. What I found surprisingly difficult was the silence. Not that the rainforest is silent, far from it. It was the lack of human voices and contact with the outside world I found disconcerting.

I began talking to the animals and birds. It made me smile and giggle the thought of a human hearing me in deep conversation with the frogs and tarantulas living in my home on the river banks. The birds at least replied and came regularly for a chat. This was when I realised birds are far more intelligent then we give them credit for. The small finches would move their heads as if trying to catch my words and tweet in reply. The bigger birds, aracaris and toucans, just stared, but felt comfortable enough to stay and watch me. The vultures looked at me as if I had come from another planet, practically sitting in my lap if the food on my plate was tempting.

I grew to love deeply the forest during these times. Sitting on the small wooden river platform doing the washing up became a pleasure. Aqua and crimson swallowtails butterflies came and landed on my hands drawn by the perfumed soap or salt from my sweat. I watched as they stroked my skin with their long black tongues and, yes, I talked to them too.

I got used to the silence and instead became part of another world. It was for a time an uncomfortable experience, but finally a liberating one.

Undersong of the rainforest

I have just read that there is a word, under song, which describes the sound of a landscape or the murmur of an environment often hard to hear or tune in to.
I found undersong easily in the Amazon Rainforest. Lying neck deep in a cool stream on a hot, humid day with my eyes shut I could hear the rainforest around me ..helped by the rhymic pulsing of insect chirps…the forest seemed to speak to me. In the soft movement of leaves and the cathedral like canopy of trees it spoke to me of strength and vulnerability. 

Agami Heron…Chestnut-bellied Heron…Agamia Agami

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Agami Heron…Chestnut-bellied Heron…..Agamia Agami

The Agami Herons were regular visitors to the waterfall area. Being shy they kept hidden in the undergrowth most of the time, but occasionally I would catch sight of them on a branch or moving slowly along the river bank.

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The Agami is a long billed, long necked, short legged, medium size heron. It has a chestnut neck and chest and with a creamy white stripe down the middle of the fore-chest. The wings are dark green in mature herons, brown in immature birds.

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Agami gather together to nest in large colonies and usually have two blue eggs. A quiet, shy bird, when gathered together they make a low snoring sound. They eat fish, frogs, snails and small reptiles.

Despite their reputation for shyness the Agami did not fly off as we passed by in our canoe, but carried on picking amongst the reeds for fish…

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Foods from the Amazon Rainforest…fruits of the forest

Foods from the Amazon Rainforest…fruits of the forest.

More than 3000 edible fruits are found in Amazon rain forest, amongst them…… Acai, avocado, banana, coconuts, Cupuaçu, fig, grapes, lemon,mango, oranges and pineapple. Many are indigenous, some such as melon were introduced as long ago as the the 1600s.

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Acai fruit from the Acai palm tree is an essential fruit for local people of the forest. It is a small black berry packed with protein. Unfortunately the increasing popularity of this fruit worldwide means cleared forests, large plantations and the use of fertilisers and pesticides….which isn’t necessarily good for the rainforest, its wildlife or its inhabitants.

Pineapples, picked from the centre of low, thick leaved bushes, and guarded, often, by huge, black, hairy, Pink-toed Tarantulas, are sweet and tender. Opened with a slash of a sharp machete, the firm, pale yellow flesh is eaten dripping with clear yellow juice. Not a bit like the floppy sad rings, dipped in thick, sweet, orange syrup, that we in the west have for dessert.

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Mangoes are picked from the trees when ripe or picked up after a storm. The mangoes bare little resemblance to shop-bought ones. they have a distinctive, fresh smell.The mint green peel is easily opened to reveal rich, golden flesh, so full of juice it runs through your fingers, sticky and luscious.

The Cupuaçu trees come from the Amazon region. The fruit is oblong, brown,and fuzzy. It has a rich creamy whitened, aromatic pulp. The vitamin and mineral rich pulp is used to produce delicious juices, jellies, ice creams, shakes, mousses and chocolates.

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