Ape Song

We are writing to you in the first-person plural. We may or may not be named Stacy, Laura, Genevieve. We are apes and we are soldiers. We may or may not be kidding. Our spokesperson is named Sally Sprout. She is happy to tell you why we won’t tell you our names: They want to be seen as people. They want to emphasize that they are not anti-male, anti-family, anti-children ... They want to emphasize that they are sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers. We want to be seen as people, so we dress up as gorillas. That way we are less particular. Why our costumes? Dismiss the essence if people knew who individuals. Stop worrying about children. No personal gains, only intangibles. We aren’t confessional. We aren’t secreting our lives through our pores or our poems. We aren’t making this personal. We just want to make ourselves known, we want to make ourselves un-ignorable. We want to make ourselves—not ourselves. We want to wear masks instead. We want to MAKE, period. What’s the matter with you—you having your period—you’ve never had one. We sign our notes, with love and bananas.

We want to take you to Big Dick City, because we’ve been living there for a while. We want to take you into the kitchen and let you cook us dinner. We have been unable to escape the burden of responsibility of home and family—the kitchen represents the never ending albatross posited by both society and upbringing on the woman artist. We want to show you our albatross.

We want to hang it around your neck.

Yes, you. Yes, yours.

Come watch our thousand tiny apes march along the painted freeway toward the fabled museum. We hit museums. We give them report cards. Has anyone tried to unmask us? We have been harassed / escorted off MFA property by police.

We may or may not include a woman named Nadine, who packs her two kids’ school lunch sandwiches at night to give herself ten more minutes to draw in the morning. One peanut butter and jelly; one peanut butter and honey. She has a rage in her so vast she could never look at it, because there would be no end to the looking. We may or may not include a woman named Grace, old as dirt; who wants her bones ground to powder when she dies and mixed into paint for other women to use.

We may or may not include a woman named Nancy, a woman named Gwendolyn, a woman named Elvira, a woman named cake batter, a woman named casserole, a woman named Late for School, nicknamed Late for short, a woman named Inadequate Mother, a woman named hymen, a woman named after whatever your uterus was called in whatever language God was speaking when he sentenced Eve to childbirth. We may or may not include a woman named God.

We want to build our installation from whatever’s left over from our homes: cloth and paper and cardboard; ironing boards and dryer lint and orphaned socks; whatever the albatross shits and surrenders. We want to build a jungle. We’d build a giant placenta from uncooked macaroni, fallopian tubes from plastic straws, ovarian cysts from gummy fruit snacks, just to be the women making woman-art, just to say fuck you to your demand that we don’t. I paint w/ my cunt. We paint graffiti. War is menstruation envy. Bent down so long, looks like up to me. Things are looking up for us. Come see.

Sincerely yours,

With love and costumes, love and cream cheese, love and morning cereal. With love and laundry detergent, varsity jackets, late night blow jobs. With love and tampons, love and yes-I’m-listening, love and to-do-lists, love like an albatross; love like a song we can’t help singing. With love and bananas—and none of our names, and all of our lives.

 

*Italicized sections are quotes from the folders and drafts in the archives.

This piece was originally published in Gulf Coast Magazine