Chimps and Such
I can wave my hand in front of my face
and it's real trippy. The chimp does that
sometimes and sometimes we do it together.
Until a baby cries. A baby always cries.
That’s when I scream, “I hate babies!”
It’s hard thinking of you.
Sometimes I lean my forehead against glass,
penguins in the distance. Somebody
painted a sky on the wall, and the penguins
stand and stare at that sky all day,
and I do, too, pretending I’m a penguin in an enclosed room.
The sky is sad as paint. I try to tell them all
that, waving a hand in front of my face.
I tell the baby that too. But it’s scary being a baby.
So I stand facing that wall that looks like sky and Antarctica.
Sometimes the baby crawls out of its stroller and joins me.
Sometimes I put on sunglasses and we both
stand and stare at Antarctica together.
Those are nice days. I wonder what a chimp would do
in Antarctica, waving its hand in front of its face.
The chimps scare me sometimes.
Remember that story about the chimp biting off
that woman’s face? That is a scary story,
and when I tell it sometimes the baby cries.
That’s when I try to make it laugh by waving my hand
in front of its face, saying, “Trippy!”
You used to hold me in your arms like a baby when I cried.
That’s how I remember it anyway.
The thing about the penguins
is that they never see me. All those days standing
with my head against the glass, and they’d rather
stare at that sad paint. I doubt they’ve even ever been to Antarctica.
I’ve painted the wall in my living room blue like sky,
painted icebergs, too. Painted penguins facing away from me.
Painted you. Remember that lady with the chimp,
the one whose friend lost her face? I wonder who she holds
like a baby, wonder what zoo she gave her chimp to.
Wonder who cries when she waves her hand in front of her face.
Author Discusses Poems