Drinking from the Limpopo River on Horseback

Wilderness

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of the soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a moving feast of stars,
footprints, scales and beginnings?

Since when
did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count?
or that our moon is not a moon unless it is full?

By whose command
were the animals
through groping fingers
one for each hand,
reduced to the big and little five?

Have we forgotten
that every creature is within us carried by tides
of earthly blood
and that we named them?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a season
and that we are in its final hour.

IAN McCALLUM