Traces – Kate Falvey

A gorilla
zooed in a kindly habitat
not quite like
its mountained own
recently cradled a fallen
human infant, unused to heights
and jarred from its slip
away from mother’s arms.
The gorilla, a mother herself,
understood yowling when she heard it.
She set the child before the keeper’s gate,
assuming kind
should go
immaculate to kind,
knowing the bandied creature
would be
stumbled upon and pet
when the evening bananas
were tumbled in.

Rejoicing all round,
scratches dressed
and diapers changed,
and new takes
on animal altruism
extended from
this interface.

It might have been
a fluke, a particularly gentle
and bright gorilla, or, conversely,
one too instinctively pea-brained
to figure out a scheme
for stealing and storing
this morsel-from-the-skies,
or, was she an impish sort,
nursing a secret lauding over
her condescending captors —
vengeance tempting but
not sporting — or worth
the aggravation,
or, maternally pragmatic, she
could surely have been one
who’d simply had enough
monkeys on her back
to trouble with another.
She may only
have wanted to
get rid of all the

Experimental infants
might be sacrificed
to science, flung one
by squalling one
to a statistically viable
assortment of gorillas, varied
in species, gender, rank, and age,
place, origin, rearing,
and type, if any,
of human influence and contact,
to gather more conclusive
comparative data.
Just so we’d know
for sure
why this quirk happened.

But this is all
by-the-way. I’d rather
wax speculative
about the
rescued child.

How will he
with this story
as his climate?
Always a kind of
landscape of fright and
hairy arms, some ur-memory
of eyes near golden
in recognition and

Folk sucked down
fairy holes
who live to tell
the tale
never can quite
tell it. They
see things
they know they
though it is
that they do.

Kate Falvey’s work has been published in many journals and anthologies, including four previous issues of Deep Overstock; in a full-length collection, The Language of Little Girls (David Robert Books); and in two chapbooks, What the Sea Washes Up (Dancing Girl Press) and Morning Constitutional in Sunhat and Bolero (Green Fuse Poetic Arts). She co-founded (with Monique Ferrell) and edited the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech (City University of New York) where she teaches, and is an associate editor for the Bellevue Literary Review.

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