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This Ape I Am

by Robin Helweg-Larsen

Under our armoured mirrors of the mind
Where eyes watch eyes, trying to pierce disguise,
An ape, incapable of doubt, looks out,
Insists this world he sees is trees, and tries
To find the scenes his genes have predefined.

This ape I am,
Who counts, “One, two, more, more,”
Has lived three million years in empty lands
Where all the members of the roving bands
He’s ever met have totaled some ten score;
So all these hundred thousands in the street
With voided eyes and quick avoiding feet
Must be the mere two hundred known before.

This ape I am
Believes they know me too.
I’m free to stare, smile, challenge, talk to you.

This ape I am
Thinks every female mine,
At least as much as any other male’s;
If she’s with someone else, she can defect.
Her choice, and she becomes mine to protect;
Just as each child must be kept safe and hale
For no one knows but that it could be mine.

This ape I am
Feels drugged, ecstatic, doped,
Hallucination-torn, kaleidoscoped,
That Earth’s two hundred people includes swirls
Of limitless and ever-varied girls.

This ape I am
Does not look at myself
Doesn’t know about mirrors, lack of health,
Doesn’t know fear of death, only of cold;
Mirrorless, can’t be ugly, can’t be old.

* *

Author’s note: First published in Ambit, 2010

Copyright © 2020 by Robin Helweg-Larsen

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