Gibbons – a series of 3 poems by Katherine Waudby.

Katherine Waudby BEd (hons) is also known as Mavis Moog and has poetry published previously in Prole, Yellow Chair Review, The Beat, A Poetry of Elephants, The Fat Damsel, Clear Poetry, Art of Rescue, Three Drops from the Cauldron. She has performed at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho, London and at The Quiet Compere in Chesterfield. She was brought up in the far east but now lives in Derbyshire with her dogs, cat, blind jackdaw, and husband.

 

Gibbons
a series of 3 poems by Katherine Waudby.

The Gibbon and the Cat
(Brunei Darussalam)

In the 1970s I had a gibbon.
His fluffy grey arms as loopy as ribbons.
Absence of tail, the visual clue,
gibbons are apes… and we are, too.

He came from the jungle by the edge of the sea,
into our courtyard, up the paw-paw tree.
With respect for his wildness he was unnamed
but he played with the cat as if he were tamed.

I say played…..I mean tormented.

The black and white cat liked to rest in the cool.
Her favourite spot was a leather-topped stool.
The gibbon would watch from the tree, till she’d settled….
Then he’d fly down and swipe the poor cat to the floor
before screaming with laughter and swinging out through the door,
which he carefully slammed behind him to block
any pursuit from the unfortunate mark.
He returned to watch from his treetop den
till the cat curled up on the stool again.
Then with a lope and a howl and a comical hover,
he’d repeat the trick ….over and over.

 

Twilight in the Jungle

parakeets, crickets and monkeys compete
to fill the air with a chattering panic
as if they hope to call the sun back
and cheat the night-hunters
of their beat.

The gibbons sing an eerie chorale.
Whoops fold the air into hoops and whorls,
swooping and scooping humid breath from from the jungle floor.

But our gibbon ignores the sirens.
He prefers to sip tea and eat paw-paw with us
because we have teacups and a black and white cat.

 

Pilgrimage.
(Welsh Mountain Zoo 2017)

The camel crosses his humps for luck,
a snow leopard curls as if on a hearth rug,
stone faced spider monkeys blank me
and chimps snore and scratch in the Welsh sunshine.

Only Jake, who I have come especially to see, seems busy.
He lopes from rope to rope
and reaches his horizon in ten.
Then back again.

For 35 years he’s lived in Wales.
Far from his family tree.

Raised by a man, Jake has never seen jungle steam,
nor followed the fruit route with his clan.

Yesterday, his song woke me in my tent.
It pulled me here.
I stand beside his cage,
heart pounding with a sorrow so deep,
it is almost rage.
Briefly, he pauses;
he sees my eyes.

Jake swings on,
enchanting the visitors.
Then, for no reason he can discern,
he stands braced on the bars and sings.

‘What’s that, Daddy?’ a child asks.
‘A monkey, of course. Look at its funny face,’ he replies.

I don’t correct him.
It doesn’t seem to matter now,
that Jake has no tail;
that he’s an ape,
like us.