The Howler Monkey
The Howler Monkey is among the largest of the New World monkeys. They
range in size from 56 to 92 cm, and like many New World monkeys, they
have prehensile tails. They have a short snout, and wide-set, round nostrils.
Howlers eat mainly top canopy leaves, together with fruit, buds, flowers,
and nuts and have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. They move quadrapedally
and do not brachiate, usually holding on to a branch with at least two
hands or one hand and the tail at all times. They very seldom leave the
trees, rest about 80 percent of the time and are considered the least
active of all monkeys.
Our father buys us a fish tank,
a fascinating alien world for
a month or two, of constant golden
movement, of slipping in and
out of that rock hard sand-castle
and its gravel-gray tower.
Eventually though, the novelty
of face against glass,
mimicking piscine lips, loses
out to other toys; the aquarium
becomes part of the furniture,
its swarming masses as little
to do with life as the grain
of a sofa leg, its sorry water
only changed if mother does it.
Father leaves, and we're
suddenly hungry for the parts of
him that don't abandon us:
the fishing rod, the photographs,
and that tank, now mostly murky
green, its fish dying one by one
on our tearful watch,
this natural thing,
this quiet murder.
John Grey is an Australian born poet, and US resident since the late
seventies who works as financial systems analyst. He has been recently
published in Connecticut Review, Kestrel and Writer’s
Bloc with work upcoming in Pennsylvania English, Alimentum
and the Great American Poetry Show.