With less than a week to go to the BASPCAN 2018 Congress, Clare Shaw, Congress Poet in Residence looks to a Rhesus monkey for insights into stress, serotonin and early attachment, the last of her monthly poems which you can read here


The Rhesus Monkey Speaks of Love


“A specific polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene is associated with deficits in early neurobehavioral functioning and serotonin metabolism, extreme aggression, and excessive alcohol consumption among monkeys who experienced insecure early attachment relationships, but not in monkeys who developed secure attachment relationships with their mothers during infancy” (Suomi, 2003).  


Let me tell you this:

I have unexpectedly sophisticated skills

at maths.


These have helped me incalculably

to resist attack.

I am determined never to die.


Social in nature

I have lived among people

and was always afraid.


This way I survived.

At home in the water

I can fly.


There was one star in the sky

and I loved it

though it often went out,


Oh, I am a great success.

I would not abandon my daughter

or eat her


and who hasn’t slapped or bitten or kicked

when driven to it

by fear or threat?


Who would not fight

for a mate, for a fuck, for fruit

or the light? For the child


on their back?

If this is not love,

then what is this weight?


And who would not sing it in flight?