This world holds both poison and medicine
– two leaves that look the same –
the shiny one makes quinine and the other kills.
Our guide picks up two fallen fronds from the forest floor
weaving them together as we watch. Short minutes later,
he holds a basket with a sturdy strap for carrying.
In the ways of his Waimiri-Atroari people
boys must show they have come into manhood.
A glove is fashioned from fronds but this one is tight fitting
and filled with stinging ants. Boys must wear the thing
as their bodies are overcome by poison from the stings.
The boy who is to be a man must also put his hand
in a hive of bees. The more fear, the faster the boy moves
his hand and the more he is stung. The bees sense courage.
In this world there are hidden people – the ones who know
only the jungle. People with cameras found them once.
They screamed at the big machine
and ran from our world.