Oz in the Jungle

Above the canopy where every night
one hears the screams of parrots and macaws
or sees the glowing traces of insects
leaping in fading arcs above the trees,
three hundred feet up, where no pond reflects
the Southern constellations, crickets pause
whenever winging shadows bound across

the gaps between those branches. Spanish moss
would be enough to soften landings where
the unimagined passages converge,
and sheltered from the interrupted breeze,
red blossoms of bromeliads emerge
almost like torches in the forest air
to guide lost travelers. Now, some have said

they have seen wings on monkeys overhead,
most often near midnight, when they have drunk
palmwine in excess. Some have even sworn
they've noticed whole formations formed like Vs
of geese, and they have hastened off to warn
close villages. But most just climb a trunk
thinking to save themselves when wings descend

to carry off a comrade, lover, friend,
and afterwards, some thank their gods or burn
new offerings in gratitude. But know
this is mere fancy, conjured up to please
companions who themselves have seen the slow
passing of wings above them. All gods spurn
such offerings: those wings are their delight.

by W. F. Lantry

previous scene next scene

Poetry at the Movies