• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 02

Turning Point

And I've been asked my opinion on the point
of differentiation, at which point did our species
become human, a new branch on the family

tree, no longer a monkey. And I think of fish
deep beneath the surface of the ocean, dwelling
under pressures I cannot imagine, sending their

messages in stripes and flashes, green and blue
fluorescent light, and I know that even if I could
share their depths, it would not be a guarantee

that I could learn to speak their language. So,
at what point did we become something no more
a monkey? I have seen documentaries of monkeys

who offer each other comfort and sympathy after
a fight is lost, who groom each others hair, who
carefully nurse their children, who stand guard

over their families. Their young play together,
race and climb, dare and risk, roll and tumble in
enthusiastic games, ones their elders have grown

too adult to enjoy. There are those among them
who use tools, large oval rocks to smash over
the tops of coconuts to hard to crack; the elders

show the young ones all the tricks, how to place
the shell into an indentation of the rock so it does
not roll away when smashed, the anvil-trick. And


Turning Point

even if I had a rock and coconut, I do not know
I could break one with more success. But I suspect
that the moment of differentiation was that first

time when a monkey saw another with a coconut
already broken open, and something made the one
without a coconut decide it would be easier by far

to wield and drop the hammer-rock on his kinfolk's
skull and smash that, then take the food the dead
one left behind. I cannot speak the light-words of

the fish, but I think the first murderer was human.