16

Last Stand

The Truchanas Huon Pine Reserve, south-west Tasmania

These trees reached up for light
when Jesus walked on earth,
a thousand years of rain and sun
sealed their archival growth.
A thousand more they stood in state
in their lost world inviolate.

Till white man with his lust
to plunder, reap, and sell,
rifled their forest solitude
ruthless to find and fell
with axe and chain and screaming saw,
the planet’s final predator.

But one man, late in time,
born beyond distant seas,
burned with impassioned mind to save
these rivers, mountains, trees.
A tide was stemmed before he went:
these pines remain his monument.

Now for our race our globe
our fragile only ark
swung between fear and hope we ask
what waits in the great dark -
a rendezvous with some new birth,
or the last stand of man on earth?