The Domino's Pizza Gorilla

posted Apr 5, 2011

Have you seen our gorilla?  Late one night, she
was stolen from the shop—the plate glass shattered
and nothing else taken. Not the cash register, not the
pizza boxes, not the scenes of Sicily on the walls.
Have you seen our gorilla?  Cars go by for weeks
and no one brings her back. Joe won her at the fair,
slammed the hammer hard enough to bring her home,
googly-eyed and lumpy in the way of all cheap imitations.
She sat in the corner under the fern. The first time
you held my hand, she was right there, our gorilla,
watching in that weird way gorillas watch us,
like they know what we are thinking. Have you
seen our gorilla? I'm pretty sure I have, says
the woman who goes in one day, says she saw her
up at the Granby Zoo. There was an extra one
last weekend, she says, in the gorilla house.
The silverback lolled on his back and scratched
his crotch like a man so pleased he does not care.
It was awkward, this story she told, and they assured
her their gorilla was not alive. Oh, she said, confused
about their concern. Have you seen our gorilla? does
not mean the gorilla walked away, is somewhere
afraid in the cow fields of Vermont, cold, hungry.
It means she is sitting next to the bong in someone's
apartment, chatting with the boys who stole her,
watching them wide-eyed and unblinking while
they tell her secrets. Have you seen our gorilla? is
the question the sign asks for weeks until we almost
believe we have lost something like a child. 
People walk in all month like seekers of the Loch
Ness Monster—photos of her everywhere, shadows
on buildings, I think that's her! This town comes
alive to find her. The answer to the question becomes
a resounding yes. Everyone has seen our gorilla,
everywhere. Have you seen our gorilla? She is quiet
and sits in corners. She is a shadow and a watcher.
She is a witness. She saw you hold my hand, she saw
those boys make mistakes they will not remember,
she heard us in the night. She airbrushes shadows
on buildings—things shaped like fear and lurking
and pining and love. We have been up all night
looking. First we combed the fields on foot, calling
the soft noises she makes when she is sad, which are
kind of like the low growl of the diesel truck
we back out of the garage to trawl the backroads. 
The engine calls to her like a lover. We call to her
in low sounds we almost remember, startled because
the heavy maple branches squeaking against each other
are like the sound her stuffing makes when she walks,
this bigfoot dreamwalker we laugh to find ourselves out after,
two beers in the console, Johnny Cash on the radio,
the two of us gone around the bend, as moonstruck as the fields,
hunting for something no one else can find.

Kerrin McCadden's poems have recently appeared or will soon in American Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, RATTLE, Poet Lore, Pank, The Fiddlehead, Painted Bride Quarterly and New Delta Review. She was a finalist for the 2010 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for the "Discovery"/Boston Review 2010 Poetry Contest, the 2010 Ralph Nading Hill Award and the 2009 RATTLE Poetry Prize. She was also nominated for Best New Poets 2010. She teaches creative writing and literature at Montpelier High School and is on the poetry faculty at The New England Young Writers' Conference at Bread Loaf. She lives in Plainfield, Vermont.

McCadden’s poem “The Death of the Reader” also appears in this issue.