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Gorilla in a Darkening Room

Jennifer Michael Hecht

A suspicion about oneself
in the midst of placid repetition
is a vehicle.

The suspicion is not a destination.

Obviously, the suspicion
should not be denied, but neither
should one believe it.

Let us imagine that life
in the arctic is going well for you,
though you are entirely alone
and the food is long gone; you’ve
made your meek adjustments.
The suspicion is a four-wheel drive
all-terrain vehicle that appears,
with keys, one dark day. My point is:
it is important that you do not
simply begin living in the car.

Drive. Our concerns are the anxiety
of not knowing
where we’re going,
and the terrific fear
of being given anything else to do,
of anything else appearing on our desk.
We tender resignation.
We succumb. We head back
inside and stick in a thumb.
It’s a not uncommon, it’s a common
error about how things get done.
How many gorillas does it take
to screw in a light-bulb? One,
but you need a lot of light-bulbs.

The gorilla regards
the crate of light-bulbs with excitement
but by noon, despair. My friends,
I admit, I can not
bear the anxiety of not knowing.

Outside, the African sky bleeds blue
and oxidizes. Indoors, the one
light socket opens herself
to her gorilla and waits for the perfect
turn. Did you really come here

to talk about love? Poor baboon.
This is no way to go about it,
of course, of course we need
to be more honest, to admit
the secret weakness, the shattered,
well, let’s move on.
You hear the socket coo:
My lonely gorilla, did they
punish you into perversion?

Under these circumstances
it is hard to be epic. The best
you can do is re-open the field
of possibilities and resist
rushing them closed. Bear
the anxiety of not knowing.

Resist summing up.
The secret weakness
wishes to speak, nevertheless,
face it, nothing works.

It is winter in the African
jungle and I am
empty. Below me, on the ground
a silverback looks out
at the bruised-fruit sky of a setting
sun and then back up at me.

There’s something about
fear of darkness in his attentions.
Crates of light-bulbs
everywhere and everywhere
broken bulbs. The terrible
graying gorilla is really trying
to figure it out now. He’s

looking closer. I want him
to figure it out, much as,
in the other metaphor, I want
to park the car in the first
town I come to, buy a house,
marry the village wine-steward,
and open a nice Chianti.

But you’ve got to roam.

The mango-papaya sky
at sunset in the jungle,
the aurora in the tundra.

Either way, be brave,
press the sky back into
the distance. Give yourself
a little room. Inside

the little room, dark now,
the gorilla sighs, the light-bulbs
sigh, the socket sleeps
and dreams about the rising
sun. So this is how the west was
won? This is how things get done.

Jennifer Michael Hecht

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