Third Paradigm » Other Writings » Becoming Yeast


Walking the Sierra

The campesino ecologist
is released from prison
and can't stop walking.
The reporters have to run
to keep up, asking for details
they can't print anyway.

He says only, "I don't
wish anyone to experience
what I have endured."
Not those who
put him there.
Not those who killed
his colleague's children.
Not even those who
architect the crimes.

Ten months in jail he waited
for trial, although video showed him
not even in town for the crime.
Others, including the bereft father,
could be arrested on any dark night,
for who knows what.

Instinctively, he walks fast,
putting distance
between himself
and the prison's shadow.
But when he meets the parents,
orphaned by their children's deaths,
he comes up short.
The only meaning
to their sorrow
is in his hands,
shaking though they are.

Slowly, he stops walking away
and turns back to the fight.

He talks about the right
of all to a clean environment.
He takes long strides through the sierra,
arm-in-arm with his wife,
patiently guarding the forest.
He says that planting trees
is like planting water,
but this time he adds,
or planting mercy.

This poem is for Felipe Arreaga Sanchez in Guerrero, Mexico. I read the details in a newsletter from SIPAZ,
a coalition of 50 human rights organizations who
observe and report on Chiapas.