A remarkable primate, swimming
out to a sandbar off the coast of North Africa
to gather shells for barter, found the tide
had come in and the sandbar beyond the reach
of his hairy toes. His muscles quickly tired
from the effort to stay afloat and he sucked
and gurgled for breath between waves.
The ocean responded, in its fashion, “Qui vive?”
but he was left to drown for his Neanderthal lack
of French. Eventually, he washed up on the beach,
bloated, but refined by his intercourse
with the fishes. A crowd of jellyfish gathered
and agreed among themselves
that there was no hope for this Barbary Ape,
mocking the sloped forehead
and the way he had toddled on bandy legs.
Soon, hungry crabs began to appear from the dunes,
throwing a red cloak over the dead.