By Eduardo T. Ortega

All the coral reefs
and forests were gone
and the seas were poisoned
by the land.

so, the Earth Spirit
lowered the continents
and let the waters
cleanse the earth.

and afterwards,
He asked the Water Spirit,
how do you want
the new kinds to be?

the Water Spirit pondered
for a thousand years and said:

make the corals black or gray.
place no rainbows
below the sea.
put the reefs back
in the deepest places --
divided from the fishes.

and the Earth Spirit
made them so.

and afterwards,
He asked the Land Spirit,
how do you want
the new land to be?

after a million years
the Land Spirit spoke:

raise Atlantis but keep
the other continents
below the sea.
return all animals
and plants but wait
seven billion years
before returning man.

and the land was made so
with all kinds but man.
and the Spirit was pleased.
and they rested
seven billion years.

day one.

Voices in the Wilderness: Writers in Their Environment. A Special Issue of the Sands and Coral sponsored by the Center of Excellence in Coastal Resources Management with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development. Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines. 1997