Gorilla – A Poem

I had seen you on television
where you were easily ignored
but here you breathe
twenty feet from me
black as coal
with the same potential
to burn

from the set of shoulders
like cannonballs
through massive chest
articulate fingers
that could crack bone
and cup infants

What is this majestic
not primitive
not natural

It is your connectedness
the roots and trunks
dawns and calls
are you
and you them
undivided

Then I see
written in the depthless
sadness of your eyes
the bars 
are not to protect me


A response to Susan's prompt.

Almost certainly I should edit this for the hackneyed bits – but heck – critical feedback welcome.

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25 thoughts on “Gorilla – A Poem

Add yours

  1. Oh, I like where you are going with this. Love the first two stanzas, the layered meanings of coal and articulate. #3 I get what you are trying to say–I do–but I really want you to jump to and go deeper into connectedness instead.

    and while I have seen
    war and death
    my eyes cannot hold
    what blacks the vision
    behind the wire

    Just a random thought–you know what I mean here.

    1. I relate. I’ve searched for the words – but can’t quite frame the sense I got – of a creature who somehow had more entitlement, more inheritance and belonging, yet we who feel entitled and are not have caged this extra-ordinary animal. I need a ‘beast in a cage’ simile that can contain this… more musing required 😕

  2. Reblogged this on THE ANIMAL SPIRITS and commented:
    Poet writes and influences empathy for living beings who cannot speak for themselves. All of have gifts that can be used in powerful ways. Thank you to all of the bloggers on WordPress for their acts of compassion. ~Gerean Pflug for The Animal Spirits

  3. Captivating words. I love “the articulate fingers that could crack bone
    and cup infants” the tension of opposites. Humans hold the same opposite potentials, to set free or imprison. Thank You to The Animal Spirits for bringing this post to my attention by reblogging.

    1. You’re very kind Arty – there’s nothing wrong with a bit of self-flagellation if it improves the work! But the version posted is a reworking after some interaction with Susan, and it’s better now, so I was being hard on the first draft!

    1. This is where I am. It’s complicated – some animals are preserved through zoos, but then that’s because we wiped them out! I love to see them, but would sacrifice this if they could be uncaged and safe.

  4. This is very painful for me to read so I think you have succeeded in striking at the heart of something very primary. I am reminded of Rilke’s poem about the panther in his cage.

    1. Thank you so much Jeremy – frankly I can’t imagine I’ll ever be implied in a mention of Rilke again, so I’m pasting this in my scrapbook forever!

      And yes, there is similarity at least in message if not in ability!:

      The Panther

      His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
      has grown so weary that it cannot hold
      anything else. It seems to him there are
      a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

      As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
      the movement of his powerful soft strides
      is like a ritual dance around a center
      in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

      Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
      lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
      rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
      plunges into the heart and is gone.

      Rainer Maria Rilke

      1. I am happy to be able to mention you in the same breath as Rilke: compliment intended. 🙂

        I was caught by the compassion in your poem; the captivity of animals and their sorrow is a subject that is not only close to my heart -it is my heart. I am always encouraged when others write about this subject with passion and conviction and can do so -as you have- with beauty.

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