Love In Infant Monkeys

Since I have yet to post a Brain Pickings article, here is one. Unfortunately it does not mention the obvious ethical problems with Harlow, but it is a good article and empirical research explains what Ben and Jock have not been able to explain (in a 2013 talk, Jock announced that he discovered that children have empathy, decades after psychology came to the conclusion and put away with behaviourism.)

And my poetic response, originally published in Island Writer, 2nd place winner.

Love In Infant Monkeys

She is all abstractions; a black and white photograph,

Chilliwack grad, the photographer’s stamp over the veil.

Too poor for the real thing—the real thing is usually overrated.

When it comes to mothers? That’s tricky.


Monkeys will choose cloth mothers over wire mothers

that give milk. This was a study on attachment,

as if we take babies away from mothers to test

if they will choose a scarecrow over a blow up doll.

Notebook after notebook on my mother, my real mother—

several adoption forums argue on this, would rather

call them Number One and Number Two.


All of my poems are about Freud; Cloth Envy.

Thing One and Thing Two—the white and black queens

dancing around my chessboard. The kings never moved.

A transient Mexican and a retired catholic—the men.


The 90s were the decade of endings. Still these photos,

missing letters, gap between the front teeth,

“That’s how I knew it was you, I knew,”

Schizophrenia is too long a word, it covers an entire decade.

A gap between who I expected to see. Floating between

the spaces and letters you rest atop my typewriter

with missing keys.


“I’m the king of the castle,” kids played.

Orphan, Bastard. Twenty-two page letter was lost,

the social worker is dead. Ding, Dong—Patrick Lane

asked us to write a mother poem, he gave us seven minutes,

“Everyone has one,” he said, and I thought of protesting,

telling him about the monkeys. People were in tears—

this is where numbers come in handy, and wire—

you want a poem about my mother?


Here are five notebooks with references to Harlow’s

Love in Infant Monkeys, Knitting for Dummies, Freud,

Patrick Lane, Woolf and the DSM—I hope you find her.


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