Chimpanzee

Pantroglodytes

This one’s too close for comfort.
With other anthropoids, you duck
the awkward questions, but the chimpanzee’s
too versatile, too quick.

Forget the bandy legs, the hairy skin,
the grounded knuckles, the protruding lips.
Let bones talk. Take his skeleton.
Arthritic-looking – below par on top –

the arms and fingers overlong
perhaps – an unaesthetic foot;
but otherwise, if not a perfect fit
for man, he’s getting close to it.

Move on. Observe the forward-facing eyes,
the fingernails and the opposing thumb.
Are those incisor, canine, molar teeth?
Is that how females feed their young?

And what about his way with bicycles;
his cup-and-saucer rigmarole?
Are they just circus antics – tricks
he’s had to learn through sharp control?

Those who have taken him to heart
swear by the light in his response
to word and signal that they see
an opal of intelligence.

We cannot get him into place.
He’s not a cousin, but an ape.
And yet it’s hard to find a name
for shadows with a human shape

– David Morphet 2004