I answered the banana.

I answered the banana
the tiger on the other line
didn’t have much to say
he growled ferociously
with long pauses in between
so I told him the story of the day
grandma went to a board meeting
at the bank in a gorilla suit and
the board members wouldn’t start
the meeting, fidgeting because
they couldn’t figure out
who was in the suit and
grandma didn’t make a sound
not one giggle or gorilla grunt

then the tiger began to speak
and conversation moved forward
to recap our favorites: candy, cookies
and flavor of ice cream
he didn’t know my favorite was guava
didn’t care to know about them or
where they came from either
so, pronto we took a snack break
he munched on peanut butter crackers
I could hear him digging them
out of the box while
I dipped cold slices of cucumber
in mostly vinegar dressing
to which he said YUCK!
and started to howl

I could picture him
his mouth open full
of chewed-up cracker mush
and I heard someone say
bedtime! in the background
and the tiger said not yet and
asked out of the blue why
daddy and I had to live
in separate houses
said he kept forgetting
to pack important dino Legos
and half his fuzzy friends
would get into fights
when he tried to fit
all of them in his backpack

he didn’t like packing
and fell silent again
but I got the message
his toys were split up
hard to keep track of
hunkered down and spread out
under two beds, miles apart
everything seemed lost
and only some of it
ever got found and
when it did, there were
always new missing pieces
I promised to call again
ring him on the banana phone
every night ’til he returned
home from home

then he would gather, he said
the bits left behind
he needed to keep things together
and when I whispered goodnight
the tiger-boy growled the longing
and the longing ricocheted
against every wall
of the silent space between us


Photo courtesy businessinsider.com/sai

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