Dian Fossey Clasps Digit’s Hair
Terri Brown-Davidson

What emerges from the tightly flexed fingers
gripping a blackish tuft of hair is less desperation
than an otherworldly focus. She’s tracking the hair mattes
that are left; she’s pursuing the bloodstains that rise, splashed,

over ant hills, over emerald fronds that arc up to trace
her throat though she scarcely feels them
except as preternatural fingers that slide toward her
suddenly, that caress—with the stiff-angled touch of the largest primate—

her jaw line as Digit always did, as Uncle Bert did in his prime.
Decapitated, both. The mountain gorillas, the emerald and mud-drenched
Virungas—did Fossey lose her desperation’s edge, her desire to stroke
fingertips that hadn’t receded into oblivion

but that moved beyond her physical reach?
Who knows what awaits gorillas in the afterlife?
Who knows what awaits anyone?
Joy? Hope? A continuation of pain?