Monday, July 9, 2012

How To Win By Default

After one’s planned
Life trajectory
Has been thrown
All out of kilter
By circumstances
Entirely out of
One’s control
What is one to do?

How does one
Go about
Regaining some
Semblance of
Control over
One’s own destiny?
(Assuming that
We all do have
Some kind of
Planned destiny
To begin with)

Looking back
(With all of
The benefit
Of hindsight)
I should say
That it was
My planned destiny
To follow in the
Footsteps of
My seventh
Eighth and ninth grade
French teachers
To become
In the fullness of time
A junior high school
Teacher of French
In my own right
(Bonjour la classe
My name is
Monsieur Millet
Mademoiselle Fitzpatrick
Monsieur Martin
Monsieur Hamlin
Monsieur Moraud
My French teachers and mentors
From grades six through
College senior year
Not to mention
A one year stint
At the
University of Paris
And the legendary
And deservedly famous

But no!
T’was not meant to be!
Try as I might
To crash the doors of
One obstacle after another
Appeared to
Dash my ambitions

Not one to cry
In my milk
I looked elsewhere
For job options
That ultimately
Took me down a
Very different
(And totally unexpected)
Path to fame and fortune

I had found a way
To win by default

Speaking of
Winning by default
About a year ago
I was down south
Visiting some of
my relatives
Two grandsons
Down south in
CharlotteNorth Carolina
My relations
 Thought it would be nice
To spend a sunny late summer
Afternoon at what passed
For the local zoo

The place was privately run
(And truth be told
It did not seem to be as
Well kept up as
One might hope and expect
It to be
In fact it all seemed
To be a bit seedy to me)

For the most part
The wide variety of animals
(Including one very
affectionate giraffe!)
Did seem to be properly cared for
Until we came to the
Monkey cage
That looked more or less
Like a POW camp
For primates

The cage held
Only one occupant
A rather old
Mangy looking

He was too far from the walkway
For visitors to interact with him
(Deliberately so?)
And my heart immediately
Went out to him
So lonely and miserable
Did he appear to be

Visitors were not allowed to feed him
All that we could do
Was to stare back at each other
Across the no man’s land
That had been created
To keep people away
(For his protection or ours?) 

He did not appear to be dangerous
But there was a great sadness and
Desperation in his eyes
That just broke my heart to see

We watched him watching us
As he paced back and forth
And back and forth
And back and forth
In his caged compound
Like a condemned prisoner
Serving out his sentence

I found the scene
To be depressing
And I was glad
As we began to move along
When suddenly
The chimp began to scream
As if begging us not leave him

We stopped and turned around
As the monkey
Threw himself on the ground
And began caressing the grass
As he might do if he were
Clinging to his mother’s breast
And perhaps in his mind he was

He was trying to duplicate
The hugging contact that all
Chimps in the wild need and crave

All he wanted
Was to be held and hugged
Much as we humans all crave
To be hugged and touched
And I would have
Liked to have been able
To give him a hug
(If only I could)

Best we be heading on home
Said my cousin
Pulling her two boys by their arms
How about some hot dogs and
Hamburgers for dinner?
She said knowing the boys would
Be appreciative

I looked back at the chimp
As we all piled back
Into the minivan
for the trip back home

Poor chimp I thought to myself
I guess that hugging
The ground like he did
Was the best that he could do
Given the circumstances he was in

I guess it was his way of coping
With a bad situation
I guess it was his way of
Winning by default

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

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