Author: Cher Holt-Fortin
Location: Syracuse, NY
She gardens, quilts and writes in her geographical
home, after years of living elsewhere.
Headhunters in New Guinea
killed and ate Michael Rockefeller.
Ritual, my anthropology teacher said,
like communion or Thanksgiving.
He showed us pictures of those cannibals
covered in clay--as if their own skins
could not withstand the sun,
aliens in this atmosphere,
wearing bits of bone in their noses,
their hair muddied into bizarre shapes.
I shuddered to look at them.
But one night years later
a young woman at my door
asked me to sign a petition,
to save the rain forests of New Guinea.
I signed for the trees,
not those clay-covered warriors,
their women, or their babies,
so remote from my dinner cooking,
the baby at my feet.
But in New Guinea,
a tribeswoman with a nose bone,
squatting by her fire,
her baby on her back,
laid her thumb,
that most human digit,
on a paper covered with marks she could not read,
beside the marks of all her tribe
asking unknown men and women in distant places
to save their forest,