Great Apes of Eastern Europe: A Poem

My college freshman daughter had questions
about her family tree for her Bible-as-lit course.
There should have been daguerreotypes
dating back to mid-19th century Eastern Europe,
stern visages framed by black hats,
gray-black beards and ringlet pais, busty
frummes with dresses buttoned on the neck,
stern faces bordering on severe.
Our immediate ancestors could have been
the last of the great apes, Darwin’s missing links.
My mother appeared normal, spoke normally.
She was always there, on the upper branches,
when we came home from school for milk and cookies.
My brothers and I also seem normal,
we love sports and achieved above average grades.
I should have suspected something was funny
with my father’s hairy knuckles, hairy back
and hairy chest he’d douse with talcum powder
after morning ablutions, that guttural grunting
in the shower he called singing.
The Surrey With A Fringe On Top,
was never so painful.
There were the bushy eyebrows.
He couldn’t quite make a fist.
And so my daughter’s mock biblical tale began:
Boruch was the son of Boo Boo and Sasha.
At the age of 412, he married Eugenia, age 350,
weights and ages matching,
daughter of Bingo and Cha Cha.
It’s one and done for my father’s line, as well.
No photos beyond his mother, Pauline,
and his father, Samuel.
We adopted the Jewish faith.
Their community was our entry point.
We’re on a long leash, so to speak,
not to mix metaphoric animals.
We can pump our tire swings as high as we want.
We’re free to believe in Zippy and Goo Goo.
We’re free to go apeshit any time.

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