2: Water—A Tree of God (lyrics)

[Maathai]: “I like to go to rivers; I love rivers and streams. To go to the edge of the river and see the river flow, I can almost cry when I see a river flow. First of all, I think of the fact that that river has been flowing for how long, and where will those waters go, and where will they end? When will they come again, and be recycled again, and run through that same place? And where will I be?”

Taste of the fresh mountain water.
Frogs’ eggs slip through fingers,
Dipping into the spring.
Her roots dive deep and hold: her memories, her land, herself.

“A tree of God,” my mother used to say.
“We don’t use it, we don’t cut it, we don’t burn it.”

Two hundred years:
Through the storm, the flood, the drought;
Breathing, always breathing;

Open each flower; unfurl each spray of green;
House the lick and flick of tongue;
Let a wing fling itself into the shadows of an endless wood.

Frail. Frayed. Flayed. Flailed. Fail. Felled. Fall. Falling. Fallen. Floored.

Frogs’ eggs, vanished. The riverbed, dry.
A withered trunk. A stump.
My memories, my home, myself: gone.

“Don’t cry, Wangari. There are millions of other trees.”

A seedling in the palm.
A root, moist. A shoot. A life. Hope.

Wind and sun. Clouds rise up the mountains.
Rain seeps into the ever-grateful soil.
Streams belly up from a swollen earth,
Slide through green hills.

Sea, sun, wind, cloud, rain, soil, stream, sea. Root, tree, breath, shoot, hope.

Many saw this river before me. Many will see it after me.
I may not see it again, but the river will flow.
The river will flow.