The Origin of Laughter: (After Desmond Morris)

Hunched in the dark beneath his mother’s heart,
The fetus sleeps and listens; dropped into light,
He seeks to lean his ear against the breast
Where the known rhythm holds its secret pace.
Slowly, slowly, through blizzards of dozing,
A face is gathered, starting with the eyes —
At first, quite any face; two painted dots
On cardboard stir a responsive smile. Soon
No face but one will serve: the mother’s,
A mist, a cloud that clearly understands.
She teases him, pretends to let him drop.
He wants to cry but knows that she is good.
Out of this sudden mix, this terror rimmed
With necessary flesh, a laugh is born.