The Thumb of the Errant Ape
yes, it is a sonnet!
My first poem today begins as a comedy but ends as a tragedy. Having said which, I don’t suppose for a moment that the final word has been spoken or the last dice has been cast in the quest for life, human and otherwise. Humans contain both great good and great evil, and myth and poetry and philosophy have told us this abundantly since the dawn of history and before. So I am certain that what I’m expressing in this dubious sonnet is not the whole story now or later. Nevertheless, I wrote it thus…
I find in the course of reading that current research indicates that the eating of cooked meat was a very early development in hominins and may have produced the increased fat intake that allowed greater cerebral development. Hence the references in the poem.
On a technical note, as my readers probably know, I am rather a classicist and normally write my sonnets in iambic pentameter. This poem is an exception as the thoughts began coming in this rather rollicking and unpredictable anapestic pentameter. I think it expresses my wry thoughts sufficiently well! For the rest, why not contrast the most questionable of apes with the sophistication of a Petrarchan sonnet form?
I sing the opposable thumb, the gift of the gods
To an errant ape who knew neither the why nor the how,
Who was clever enough to use what the gods endow–
This thumb which pushes and twists and fidgets and prods,
Which makes a knife or a fishhook, approves and nods
To its offspring which tames the aurochs and builds us a plow.
And we’ve trusted the thoughts that went on in the depths of that brow
For the craft and the building and being. And what were the odds
That we’d use it so ill? The ape would not swing so he ran,
He muddled with this and with that and he ate his meat cooked,
And we thought he was wise, but perhaps it was Zeus who was right:
The apes that we are and have been since the eons began
Should never have fire. The apes with the thumbs–we have looked
But have understood little; our power is bringing the night.
In an entirely different mood, here is a new friend at the house. A Cactus Wren has decided to also keep its home just outside. Most mornings now, we see a tail flip-flipping along the window as the wren searches for provender.
On my windowsill,
tail flicking as you forage:
Welcome, small brown guest!
As a final note, I add a link to a much earlier reference to the Promethean myth, one which expresses an entirely opposite attitude. Each view of humanity and the future has its place:
Very fun sonnet and beautiful haiku!