Send me a real dog-faced ape
that rides a dog, and plays the harp
or lute, who goes ‘la la la la’
and stands upside-down in the park.
We’ll walk round flower-beds,
through rooms of light,
looking for the room I fell in love in,
singing Stella Maris in my bra.
That’s where the velvet monkey lived.
I wanted him. I saw his dark red fingers
crush his dress.
He was my sister Mary’s doll, not mine.
My present was my first geranium,
that smelled of peppermints and had no bones.
It was a post. I wanted a baboon.
They come from Abyssinia in crates.
For the BBC 100 collection, recording used by permission of the BBC - from Gloria: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).