Seeing the rare douc langur in the semi-wild, outside Danang

by Chloe Martinez

In pictures: his round ruminant belly. He chews 
betel leaves all day. Bright ochre legs, sensitive face, framed 
with a white ruff. When blinking: mysterious blue eyelids. 

How do we protect it? We bring people. They see the monkey 
and they fall in love. Unburdened, confident, the eco-tour guide 
took us up the mountain. Even the children grew quiet, 

squinting into the leafy depths. Finally we stopped and gazed 
into the douc’s shining eyes, which remained quite open, 
no blue to see but that of the sky. We stood in the empty road 

clutching cameras. Meanwhile, the douc, regal, 
plucked a branch and removed each one of its leaves, 
just as I do with a bunch of basil. His sharp little mouth 

moved, chewing. The sea like a sparkling tray was held up 
in the background of him. The red-shanked douc ignored it.


Chloe Martinez is a poet and scholar of South Asian religions. She is the author of Corner Shrine (Backbone Press, 2020), which won the 2019 Backbone Press Chapbook Competition, and Ten Thousand Selves (The Word Works, forthcoming 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Shenandoah, The Common and elsewhere. She teaches at Claremont McKenna College. See more at