L.E. Goldstein’s lyrical lines about the Amazon fill the imagination with the beauty of an area that is quickly becoming one of the many casualties of a world overrun with capitalist greed and corruption. Listen to Goldstein read her poignant piece and read along, below.

L.E. Goldstein reads “The Amazon Is Not for Sale”


L.E. Goldstein

“A civilization flourishes when old men plant trees underneath whose shade they shall never sit.” –Greek Proverb

They say that in Lancaster there are four trees descended from the trees of Johnny Appleseed. The press shoots brazen smiles and plaques beam in the Massachusetts sun. This is what we’re told is ancestry. But a woman in the Amazon sings of generations floating down the Napo. She knows more of the Earth’s story, which began when the world did, and will be re-sung, again, continuously. They say that in the Amazon each tree was planted by an ancestor, branched and spread throughout time. But soon construction trucks will tear from the river to these trees, where the children hang their clothes to dry, then climb to the tallest branch for the largest pacays to eat in the shade along the rocks—what will happen to these children— when there’s no clean water for boiling guayusa before the sun breaks behind the mountain, where Illuku cries at night from the papaya tree above the scutter of leaf-cutter ants, where the silent tarantula watches the dancing mantis on the head of a python among the yuca, the banana trees, where the young boy plucks cinnamon leaves from the legacy his great great great grandfather left, to make stomach-soothing tea. And what will happen to the river— when the Company that sends tin roof pieces in exchange for seismic testing will one day drill for oil, where the children now fish for carachama that they gut and boil for stew for their parents and siblings as they come from the garden, or where the little girl calls for her sister to watch as she cartwheels then jumps from rock to river, the mother that flows through her blood to the roots of the trees and the veins of the Earth where we’re writing the greatest of tragedies.

L.E. Goldstein holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Fine Arts from Boston University. Her poems have recently appeared in MiddleGray, 3 Elements Review and Illya’s Honey, and her first chapbook is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2015. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Dallas, where her interests include poetry, translation studies and Latin American art and culture. She is also the editor of Moon Pigeon, a poetry letter series publication.

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