Monday, November 26, 2007

“To Help the Monkey Cross the River” by Thomas Lux

To Help the Monkey Cross the River

which he must
cross, by swimming, for fruits and nuts,
to help him
I sit with my rifle on a platform
high in a tree, same side of the river
as the hungry monkey. How does this assist
him? When he swims for it
I look first upriver: predators move faster with
the current than against it.
If a crocodile is aimed from upriver to eat the monkey
and an anaconda from downriver burns
with the same ambition, I do
the math, algebra, angles, rate-of-monkey,
croc- and snake-speed, and if, if
it looks as though the anaconda or the croc
will reach the monkey
before he attains the river’s far bank,
I raise my rifle and fire
one, two, three, even four times into the river
just behind the monkey
to hurry him up a little.
Shoot the snake, the crocodile?
They’re just doing their jobs,
but the monkey, the monkey
has little hands like a child’s,
and the smart ones, in a cage, can be taught to smile.

(Thomas Lux, from The Cradle Place. 2004 Houghton Mifflin Company)


Anonymous said...

Florida's Alligators and Japan's monkeys in the same poem? D'Anne the poem guru is just doing her job.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you should have written this. It made me consider liking monkeys.