Waino and Plutanor
by Sandy Coomer
How did you feel when P.T. Barnum renamed you
and gave you a history from Borneo? Did you look
at each other and say, Brother, that's a long way
from the family farm in Ohio or could your simple
minds grasp such a far-away jungle? The orangutans
in the rainforest swing the high branches of dipterocarps,
an orange flash accompanied by howls. But P.T.
never told you the name orangutan means "people
of the forest," and dipterocarps are tall hardwoods,
and the howls are friendly calls so that each ape knows
where the other apes are. P.T. told you Borneo and that
was that, and gave you names you couldn't wrap
your tongue around and touted you as wild men
when you were really just strong. How was it you
could lift three hundred pounds with your fifty pound
bodies? Why was your forty inches of height
such a threat to the six-foot-tall men who watched you?
Did you ever ask each other that? Did you ever whisper,
long after the show was over, tucked into your narrow cots
under the canvas tent: Hiram, we sure made some
money tonight. I just wonder, Barney, if we'll ever see it.