Everything about it says Economy:
The rattan headboard; the fibrous spread
catching us in its threads. The walls: thousands
of sherbet-green fronds set against fading
mountain ranges like sketches
from the notebook of a British colonel
drawn and redrawn absent mindedly
then posted all around as friendly notice
of distant, unattainable exotica.
On the television, and perhaps part
of the package: Tarzan and His Mate, 1934.
The treasure hunters have, at last, dispersed.
O'Sullivan and Weissmuller slip -
searing and nude - into a jungle pool. So verdant
and so bestial a scene that Jane's a body double.
Sweet paganism, one critic called it
to thrust a man and woman into love like this
naive in one another's world until they kiss.
Hardly the English Lord fluent in languages
this Tarzan smothers upturned panting lips
with a desire that covers her like moss.
Part ape, Robinson Crusoe, sometimes Moses.
His role, in any case, is to save Jane
from herself. To teach her how to sail
from vine to vine as though standing still.
And when it comes to leaving, not to pale
from choosing human nature over longing.
God knows this kind of choice sees casualties.
In Kansas City, in a single day, fifteen children fell
from trees while practicing the victory cry
of the great ape. In cinematic style, medics healed
the noble savages with splints. And young boys cried
from their sick beds, all hours, jungle-piercing calls.
Noblesse oblige. Cities, of course, have burned
to choruses like this. Love wants a jungle shower.
Copyright © 2002 M. B. McLatchey All rights reserved.
Published in Shenandoah, Winter 2003.