Clade Song 9


Once upon a time, in her mother’s arms, a little girl with golden hair
Received a benediction from a person of the forest—or,
A small orangutan, in a zookeeper’s arms, reached across a
Narrow, forbidden space to feel the fine, staticky strands.
Gasps from the keeper, the mother—in their held breath, a moment
Under the spell of a familiar mystery. She feels the gentle hand,
The size of hers, the curious fingers and thumb. How different? How
Alike? Impossible to measure. And so a kind of prayer, since in all the years,
No other touch has held such tenderness—let every first caress be this.




Henrietta Goodman is the author of three books of poetry: All That Held Us, a sonnet-sequencepublished by BkMk Press in 2018 as winner of the John Ciardi Prize; Hungry Moon, published by Colorado State University in 2013; and Take What You Want, which won the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books in 2006. Her poems in this issue are part of a collaboration with the poet Ryan Scariano consisting of dual-alphabets of acrostic poems contemplating intersections of the human and non-human animal worlds. She teaches at the University of Montana and at Texas Tech University and lives in Missoula, Montana.