Gift of the Sloth

by Debbie Lim

To live like this demands a talent for hanging
by toenails curved as a Balinese dancer’s

for over a decade. For clinging the soft pendulum
of your body to a tree (in wind, hail or heat)

because your life depends on it. Even though your muscles
are weak as ribbons, your eyes sightless buttons.

It means improvising for rain: growing fur backwards
so torrents sheer off you like a rock in a stream,

then allowing yourself, over time, to green
in empathy (for what is there in life, really, to envy?)

with algae and photosynthesis. Your coat will provide
a travelling luxury for beetles, moths and mites. Let it.

You must appear to be a handbag of dripping moss
with a face (that someone left behind in the forest).

Of course, there will be the skill of forgetting
babies whose grip was not enough. Avoiding jaguars

during weekly visits to the ground. But most of all,
shall be the gift of knowing your one modal tree,

leaf by leaf, like the slow lover you are
high up in the canopy.