I give thanks to the tropical snake whose venom
provides pills for my civilized blood pressure,
and thanks to what’s left of his harboring rainforest.
Thanks to the Sri Lankan tea-gatherers
working in the merciless sun
to give me the cup
that lends courage for the morning.
Thanks to the banana trees of Costa Rica,
and to the Indonesian mahoganies
felled to veneer my bedroom dresser.
Thanks to the Canadian spruce cut down
and pulped for paper with which we might
enlighten each other.
Thanks to the cotton-growers of India
living on the verge of starvation,
who gave me my shirt, and to the women
in the Hong Kong sweatshop who sewed my pants.
Thanks to the nimble-fingered Chinese
Slowly going blind in their silent factories
Assembling my cool electronic toys.
And thanks to uncountable tiny beings
compressed by geological history
into oil under Nigeria or Venezuela,
whose fossil energy lets me cross
a whole town for an ice-cream cone.
Thanks also to the trillion microbes
who ferment my beer, recycle my wastes,
and finally will return my body
to the Great Round of Being.
Thanks above all to fellow humans
born in the wrong countries,
who suffer falling wages, malnutrition,
deaths of innumerable children,
destruction of their landscapes,
mutilation of their ancient cultures,
in order that our goods shall be cheap
and our corporations profitable.
We owe thanks giving, yes—
but dare we ask forgiveness?
© 1990 Ernest Callenbach