Today's poem is by Matthew Ladd
Fountain of the Planet of the Apes
One by one, they pulled themselves from the water,
slashed their webbed fingers free on coral,
and tore from their necks the few remaining scales.
The scars of gills dissolved from their bare sides.
Their minds dried and took shape. They heaped the island
with signs of their presence, totems of black onyx
from dead volcanic vents. They prayed for children
and children appeared miraculously inside them.
Everything was sacred: beetles, twilight, the law.
Each year, they lit the incense fourteen times.
They loved each other in ways now obvious, quaint,
though others hated them for it and died bitterly
among shifting silk curtains and the odors of smallpox.
Then nothing was sacred, and they filled the cattle-cars
with bewildered people, mile upon mile, receding.
A girl once told me these stories as we lay on her bed.
She said, "Our knowledge removes us from our past,"
and I didn't say, "It also removes us from each other."
I was unsure, in the end, whether it was true
and in the glare of her lamp was afraid to make a mistake.
Copyright © 2011 Matthew Ladd All rights reserved
from The Book of Emblems
The Waywiser Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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