Forgive us Monkey Mother
As we drive our chisels
into monumental clefts
To hew a non-falsifiable surety
Soon scoured away by typhoon & meteorite,
Pulverized by a desert breath. Forgive us
As we raze wooden idols raised in your honor
To lift phalluses of steel against your eternal day
& power our garbage scows out beyond break-waters
To drop tokens of our disdain into your terrible unknown
While others cooly pull apart the products of your fecundity
In laboratories, hospitals, butcher shops
& tap their ashes into wounds that yet feel
& sever viscera that yet distends to accommodate breath.
O we have risen up against you. Our brainpans
Forced your thighs apart & we laid screaming in your shadow.
You bent the grids of your face above us & we softened
You called us angel: we relaxed our sphincters
& shat plutonium upon the earth.
Now all things reek of our madness. We grope ourselves
At the terminus of the city, polish that monument
To pain with sacks of pulverized teeth.
You wag your finger in our faces
Yet we twist the screw through the metal plate just the same.
The moon bears witness to business-faced minions
Leveling mountains by atomic bomb
So yet another city can be fashioned
On rotting pylons driven into gravel, bones, and cesium
As you stand dispassionately on my window sill,
Fresh water & milk in plastic cups before you
One ceramic hand lifted in benediction
Thumb & forefinger fused in a pallid ring. Propped
Beside you a yellowing photograph of your long-
Forgotten manifestation: an old woman
Holding an infant in summer: My earliest self sad-eyed there,
Breathing the scent of my grandmother.
Monkey mothers gather their delicate, bisque-headed charges
& drag them near though they foul themselves in fear
Gather their cries to leather teat-ends
Broken by flea-bites beneath dull fur
& give suck though it pains them.
Lift their charges close to scabbed nostrils
& run a languid paw along their spines,
Exploring the nervous ribs, scratching the tiny bellies.
Their infants stop shrieking & soon
Assume the sleep of planetary dust as Monkey Mother
Looks up at the clouds & cracks a flea
Delicately between her teeth. She will balance this way
Beside the trembler for hours. She will lift the wizened little creature
Onto her back & climb into the highest branches of the trees
& resume her vigil, biting her knuckles, pulling her swollen
Dugs. She will stare into the night for danger as her baby
Tumbles thru darkness of animal dreams, tumbles
Through Bardos, watching the Forms shift astonishing fire
Before its uncomprehending gaze.
Mother—your blacked eyes swollen lip
Thrown out by Monkey Father in the snow
Dressed in pink nightgown that you’d bought to please him,
Pleading from window to window
To be let back in. We could not help you. We lay
Gobbing back tears in the dark as we heard your voice rise
Above the January wind. We tried to imitate stone & bone
As we curled on our sides & sucked our thumbs & held our eyes shut tight.
Forgive us your freezing fingers, thickened chest & nipples,
Your insteps stung by viper head cold.
& When you were let back in by Monkey Father,
Forgive men for the rest of that night.
Forgive us all.
Jesse Glass has lived and worked for over 20 years in Japan.