“During this time, the mother and the child
are removed from the enclosure for their
safety.” We read the sign and then filed

underground to the male Gorilla’s lair
where he lived for the present time alone;
they’d been known, even to kill their own heirs.

Hulk of yellowed teeth, of muscle and bone,
they called him Macombo the Second, “Mac”
for short. And as we entered the glass dome

where the humans watched him, safe from attack,
at the center of the Columbus zoo,
we saw a family, dressed all in black.

The parents and children, the youngest almost two,
were seated in the order of their height
bolt straight and silent as if in a pew.

They studied the gorilla as twilight
loomed. Bonnet or beard, they watched without scorn,
but were instead transfixed by a lonely sight:

Here Macombo, far from wife and newborn,
masturbated half-hearted and forlorn.

 

*This poem is inspired by the true story of one of our friend’s first dates when they went to the zoo in Columbus, Ohio. I looked up the records for the gorillas at the Columbus Zoo and Macombo II was my best guess for the culprit given the year our friends visited.

 

Photo credit: Robert Luijten license