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Terri Brown-Davidson

Dian Fossey’s "Astronaut Blues"

Dian Fossey’s "Astronaut Blues"

The green vines sodden with rot. And steam wafting off fronds
makes the student flush. He trembles then grabs
at heart-shaped leaves; they slice his hands raw.
Dian Fossey’s behind him in case he faints.
The "astronaut blues." Soon it will rain, hail,
and the student’s consciousness will float away suddenly,
desert him so he wants only to lounge on his cot,
dreaming, circling
until the Swahili sentries
roll him onto their litter,
bear him down the mountain.

It’s her phrase, I know, coined inside her Karisoke cabin,
rain caressing the tin roof then pummeling it,
shrill as a mountain gorilla thumping his chest in a mock-display.
But she relishes solitude as the students who trail her can’t,
absorbed in checking off boxes; she loves to experience
each lift-off from consciousness
so she’s hovering outside her own body,
slack-shouldered and hunched in a flannel shirt below,
the fabric a red buffalo-check ripped along each wrist,
her large bony hands shifting frantically as she types,

her thoughts hazing out of focus
so it’s Digit’s face she glimpses
darkening the red-lettered page,
the silverback swain who’s more important to her now
than a husband could be — or a child —
his black-gloved fingers caressing her
till she lies back in the copse, sweaty
and loose-limbed, laughing
as she dreams of obliterating mankind
with some swift and expedient method.

Poet's Biography:
photo of poet Terri Brown-Davidson is on the poetry and fiction faculty at Gotham Writers' Workshop and holds a Ph.D., M.F.A., and M.A. in English and poetry and fiction. She received the Intro Award and a Yaddo fellowship, among other honors. Her poetry has appeared in Triquarterly, Denver Quarterly, Hayden's Ferry Review, New Delta Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review and others. She won The Ledge Chapbook Competition in 1994 for her chapbook Rag Men. Her first book, The Carrington Monologues, was nominated for both the Pushcart and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. Her first novel, Marie, Marie: Hold on Tight, is forthcoming from Lit Pot Press.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.