i'm a metal monkey

By Laura Gao • 2 min read
October 2022

Canvas tarp of the Otentik raps
Slits between flaps
glimpses of night
Around the wooden table
Miranda, Ella, Amy, and I
We're Not Really Strangers cards 3 neat piles
Amy flips a card
“Happiest moment last year?”
Pauses.
Er, I don't know.
C'mon, you've been happy.
Summer, I guess. You?
Finishing my chem test, probably.
Next card?

We played this game at Atlas
underneath fuzzy blankets
nighttime balcony.
John a 5-paragraph essay for each question,
Each tangent an hour derailed.
But here
an anchor against undertows,
squeezing water from stones.
Each card a blink,
a flap of a bee's wing.
Toronto friends are less opinionated,
less thoughtful,
less.

After Atlas,
A void.
Controversial opinions unvoiced,
criticism unuttered,
disagreements unspoken,
in every conversation.

I have agency, I thought.
I can recreate the culture I loved.
So I give my hot takes:
Coffee is mental weakness.
Thought is missing from school.
Stressing about applications
Makes you a fool.

A week after camping,
Amy tells me I'm a metal monkey mom,
Harlow's test subject.
I have the milk of thoughtful ideas,
but no fur.
Being with me
doesn’t bring comfort.

Not everyone likes arguing,
Emily tells me.
If I challenge every belief I’m hearing
The shy will be quiet
The reserved hold their thoughts in reserve.
I said I want Toronto friends to be more thoughtful
Amy said nothing
not because she agreed

I realize,
my pursuit of thoughtful gatherings
turned people off, and
prevented them from happening.