As night steeps he stirs, unbuds,
Reclenches his branch, sets his fine
Toothcomb and claw to appointed tasks,
Breathes in: so the world is laid out,
Scentscape, patched pattern: this realm, this canopy
And his own place. This pace
Is as it should be. Each arch
Of fat-tubed fingers lifts long as it has to,
Gaps to full span, forms its own foothold,
Roots again for the rest. With such support
All space is equal, and any breadth of bark
A corridor. Limber from limb to limb
He traverses, a prudent acrobat
(Yet poised, always, to switch to a savage rush
And backbone-bridge to become backbone as weapon).
Now, though, nothing threatens, and he edges on
Toward his usual pleasures: two bananas a minute,
Glass globules of gum to crack in crushing jaws,
Fresh trails of perfume: perhaps an invitation
To twine and mingle, to curry and anoint.
Softly, softly: we below have no more claim
Than that of a spectator. Stand and strain
To separate his outline from the darkness
That is his limpid homeland. Do you think
He needs your eyes to bring him into being?
Bosman or no man, to him we’re all the same:
Offshoots long tumbled from the family tree
And left in wonder, stunted so as to stretch.