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Ronald Wallace - The Great Apes

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The Great Apes

Sometimes they get so bored we give them treats,
she says, chained to her cart outside the ape
enclosure. Peanut better, fruit, and nuts
stuck on a board for them to pick. We gape
at her table of ape parts: the elongated skull,
at cast footprint, the soft hairy hand, the comical
long-armed shirt a great ape would wear if an ape
wore shirts. We laugh because theyre so much like us

or unlike us. Two silverbacks sit on their haunches,
snapping their fingers, picking their nits, staring
out from under their meddlesome brows. One launches
a sudden attack at us, slamming the glass, wearing
a mask of disinterest. The crowd is interred in mirth.
We go our merry ways to inherit the earth.

Ronald Wallace

Alaska Quarterly Review
Spring and Summer 1998

Nature Poetry

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