"The Hummingbird and the Forest in Flames"

by Elise Harter

This poem was inspired by the drive and determination of Wangari Maathai; Nobel Prize winner and environmental activist.
It is based on a supposedly Japanese legend to which Wangari refers in her auto-biography, "Un-Bowed: A Memoir".

"The forest is burning and I don't know what to do",

Said the robin to the hummingbird, "I wish this were not true.

I see the lions running, tigers, zebras too.

The other birds have left us. They've left for lands anew."

"We too must start a-flying", the hummingbird replied,

"But where to go?" said Robin. "We have no home", he cried.

The hummingbird just vanished, as Robin closed his eyes.

There was no time to waste as sparks flew through the skies.

While Robin simply sat there, the hummingbird worked hard.

She sought to save the forest; to be its mighty guard.

"Come on", she called to Robin, "We haven't got much time.

To leave our treasured home like this would be an outright crime".

Robin seemed quite puzzled, but he followed his dear friend,

If they could stop this fire, he'd be there 'til the end.

They flew into the roaring flames, they saw the embers spark,

And from their beaks through water, on leaves and twigs and bark.

That day they just flew back and forth, brought water to the flames,

Oblivious to the animals, who - escaping - called them names.

"You're ridiculous", jeered the cheetah, "What do you hope to do?

Carrying water in your beaks! I can't believe it's true!"

But as he saw them working, he saw that they were right

and joined them in their mission, carrying water through the night.

Together they poured water on the forest and the fire,

Though much was burnt to cinders, they stopped things getting dire.

Slowly animals returned and cherry blossoms bloomed,

The fire hadn't killed it all. The forest wasn't doomed.

Robin told them that the hummingbird had done all that she could,

But the hummingbird just shrugged. She simply loved the woods.

All rights reserved, Elise Harter.