Jessica Wiseman Lawrence


A great ape's body mass is three times denser than a human's,
and most cannot swim. This has provided an opportunity for zoos.

The larger apes at the Richmond Metro Zoo are kept in "natural" enclosures:
large grassy areas surrounded by moats measuring ten feet deep and six feet across.
Treehouse structures are provided for shade.

The Bonobo was stoop-shouldered and staring down,
his toes and fingertips were lined up at the edge of the water.
If he dared, he would sink to the bottom,
unmoving and bent like a black marble chess piece.
We watched him bound to his earth by heaviness.

His arms moved then in fluid arc—
the exact shape
of red plastic monkeys in a red barrel—
went into the trees the zoo made for him then.

Comfortably he regarded our pointing group
as we took aim, filling our phones with him.
Was he looking at us, or
at the moats between us strangers?
Was he looking at us, or
at our lives all made for us by someone else?

Jessica Wiseman Lawrence is the author of Terrible Little Stars, a poetry collection available from Kentucky Story Chapbooks. Her recent work has been published in Hermeneutic Chaos, Stoneboat, Origins, Kindred, Acumen, and in anthologies from The Divine Feminine, Yellow Chair Review, and Terrapin Books. She lives in rural central Virginia with her family.Shepherd.

Current | Archives    Submit | Masthead    Links | Donate   Contact | Sundress