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Even the Brilliant Chimpanzees

Patricia Young


In the Chinese restaurant we drink
Tsing Tao beer and choke down
words, handful by handful.
We grow quiet in the name
of our fervent desires.
Sometimes it is easier to exist

in silence. What other
eloquences have we learned
in two million years?
At Olduvai Gorge someone picked up
the sliver whacked off a rock,
peeled words from the other's

tongue like peeling rind
from a freshly picked melon.
Outside, the streets are ancient
gullies roaming the badlands of Tanzania.
But we do not huddle in wet misery, no, we are
smarter than that, have just enough sense

to come inside where these vermilion
walls hold back the elements
as we try to hold back
primitive emotion. Darling,
we are old, much older
than the grunts and squawks

sprouting from the buds at the end
of our spinal cords, older even
than the dried-up riverbed Leaky discovered—
that twenty-five mile gash
in the earth's surface. Tonight
it is your mammalian brain

that bowls me over, that beautiful
cantaloupe ripening beneath your skull.
And if we were to climb up
on the table between us,
go for each other
smelling of ginger root and lime

would the sky
cease pouring its grief
into every crevasse? When it rains
even the brilliant chimpanzees
fold their hands over their heads
in little caps of shelter.



Patricia Young's works copyright © to the author.


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