Field Guide to Gentleness
A man sits the last four years
outside the gorilla cage watching
the eldest male swing between
branches of pale, uprooted trees.
The gorilla sits with his back
to the man who sits with his back
to me, every day on his folding chair,
every day the roar of tourist voices
reverberating off cinder walls,
every day his friend behind bars.
When the ape dies in early summer,
and the man stops coming to the zoo,
he explains for the radio:
Now I am the one in the cage.
How he is able to wake
each morning when even the trees
are holding their breath
remains a secret I will never know.
Like all great loves,
this one ends in death.
Copyright (c) 2007 Charlotte Matthews
"Field Guide to Gentleness" first appeared on storySouth and is in the forthcoming Still Enough to Be Dreaming.
Charlotte Matthews is the author of two full length collection of poetry, Still Enough to Be Dreaming and Green Stars. She is also the author of two chapbooks, A Kind of Devotion (Palanquin Press, 2004) and Biding Time (Half Moon Bay Press, 2005). Her work has recently appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Borderlands, Ecotone, Tar River Poetry, and storySouth. Most recently she received the 2007 New Writers Award from the Fellowship for Southern Writers. She is a graduate of The University of Virginia and The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She teaches in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary and Professional Studies at the University of Virginia.
Charlotte works on an individual basis with writers, both experienced and novice. In bi-monthly exchanges she will tailor assignment for you and will provide rigorous and practical feedback to your poetry, fiction or non-fiction. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.