a history of pet monkeys with camille alaphilippe


gilt-y woman of monkey pleasure
enameled gown with plates stolen from
merfolk palaces somewhere undersea between
here and algiers, long-sleeved broad
neither sailor nor showman
are you the leashed become the leasher?

let’s pretend you are of today
who would you be
melania trump? in pastel blue upon metallic stilettos
what kind of work does your keeper do?
they say you speak innumerable languages—true? a bronze figure
doesn’t babel or ripple like us gals on the brink

in a hundred years we will call you exquisite
maybe thoughtful, oppressed la femme au singe
oh, trifling statue, a thousand photographs
you see-no-evil
monkey meandering through daffodils in boboli,
luxembourg, or the white house kitchen garden.


*Inspired by Camille Alaphilippe’s La femme au singe on view at the Musée d’Orsay.


Artwork by Camille Alaphilippe, La femme au singe 

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