Jai Hamid Bashir
In the Primate Room With the Beloved

Never did far away and true swim so near. To almost touch
behind glass over grassgreen scents of animals,
shivering blackstems of fur. Eulemur macaco. We do planetary orbit

around enclosures. My Beloved holds my hand
with instinctual warmth. Lydekkerianus malabaricus. Unpercise fingers
hair deep in shared touch. We move closer. A Gibbon looks back:
pupils suffused with smaller moons. Hoolock hoolock. Reaching arms

out like infant Hanuman to eat sunskins. Then, a litter of mimics
join in plainsong babble—monkey verses through mossputrid nave.

In my drawings they look like babies I’ve known born with sad eyes.
In The Ramayana Hanuman joins Rama to find Sita.
In a mirror placed in the exhibit it is always some other time.

Unshelled time taught to walk upright. My Beloved and I pause
in reflection under a lit sign: evolution. There, Homo sapiens.
In time we go into summer to drink smuggled wine.

Broad shoulders, my waist. Deep in shared touch. Sexual dimorphism
of great apes. My soul lies down in that grass to think about The Beloved.

Dreaming in swallow of sunshine he is divine half-blue in private sky.
Dreaming on manicured lawn of lush Indian forest.
Dreaming in circles like an hour.

How did the fruited scab of my mouth
know such wonder? The drug of our breath.

Later, we have backaches reading animal welfare pamphlets
on our messy, shared bed. Taking turns counting, singing back
soft keys of our spine.

Jai Hamid Bashir, born to Pakistani-American immigrant artists, was raised in the American West. Her work has appeared in a diverse range of publications such as The American Poetry Review, Small Orange Press, The Cortland Review, Palette Poetry, The Margins, Academy of American Poets, and others. An MFA student at Columbia University in the City of New York, she writes between Washington Heights, Salt Lake City, and Lahore. https://www.jaihamidbashir.com/