Monkey’s Clever Tail

One day Monkey was called before the Monkey Council.
She was to prove the the prehensility of her tail,
her cleverest organ by far. She smoothed down
the sleek black fur of her body, and then picked
away her doubts like fleas from the forest of her scalp—
biting down hard on each one to extinguish its wriggle.

Wearing a brutally-fanged smile, she swung straight down
into the grove where the Monkey Council sat waiting.
Monkey-question after monkey-question they asked,
and all the while, the ballet of her tail astonished
those among the Council fortunate enough to have been
born imbued with something one might call a “soul”.
She restarted the heart of Oldest Grandfather Monkey
with a squeeze of her tail, when the shock of her acrobatics
sent him over the border to the far side of sleep.
Fruit rained down where she swatted the trunks of great trees,
and she calculated the best way of skinning bananas
using nothing more than a tray of sand and her tail.

At the end of the exam, decorously squeezing
the proffered tails of the Monkey Council one by one,
she shook them firmly, as a proper civilized Monkey
does, and swung off, following the river back home
bearing confidence enough in her successes, and
remembering Tiger’s having felt such envy,
wishing aloud to the moon that his own striped tail
could ever be anything like half as clever as hers.

– Gord Sellar, April 2004

April 30, 2004

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