Jenny's Pea Snack

by Kate Fereday Eshete
Jen! Jenny girl!
She snatches the succulent bundle from my grasp,
rests leathery buttocks on the ground,
fingers deftly picking off pods,
chirrups and coos, clicks and clucks,
hunched over the stalks;
pop goes a pod:
green peas.

Jen! Jenny girl!
She throws me a glance as she works through the pile
like a bargain-hunter in the January sales;
soon, empty pods and stripped stems scattered around,
she scratches her back, crosses outstretched legs,
cheek pouches bulging;
pop goes the last pod:
the last pea.

She looks up,
no more?

Jen! Jenny girl!
She springs on to my shoulder with a playful cry
and a flourish of her long blond-tufted tail;
I savour her fresh, sweet breath and soft, brown fur,
as she grooms my hair, scratches my scalp with her nails,
warm, taut belly against my ear;
no pods to pop now,
sweet pea,
Jenny the gelada.

The gelada is a grass-eating monkey found only in the Ethiopian Highlands. From 2006 to 2010 my husband and I rescued 33 captive primates and returned them to the wild. I wrote this poem in 2008, before Jenny was passed to the Michigan University Gelada Research Station in the Simien Mountains for supervised release back into the wild.

at work with Jenny
at work with Jenny