Dark mucky eyes. Muzzles pant, sniff air, mad
with the scent of humans, or seals. I hold
my toffee apple and dangle a red
jandalled foot through bars above their pit. Bears
sway in sync, contained in white, a concrete
code for snow. Polar bears attack only
when hungry, or provoked—I imagine
blood, shreds of skin, knuckles of bone frozen
in ice. I lose it, bears tug-of- war and
shear it—wild. Polarised by red on white,
one foot bare, I follow my mother who
says, ‘Don’t tell your father.’ Appetite gone
I glimpse a misty wall loom. Does it come
to divide my vast, dazzling dreamed of land?
jandal – colloquial New Zealand = thong/casual footwear
Cherllisha Silva lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand
“This poem was written in response to Francine Helena’s open workshop ‘Dear Zoo—Writing Poems about Rare and Exotic Animals. We were asked to write about an encounter, real or imagined, with rare and exotic animals and to evoke the essence of the animal. The experience was engaging (like an animal) and fun and every workshop poet magically connected to a different animal.”
‘Polar Bears, Auckland Zoo, Summer 1963’
Posted in Poems 8 years ago
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I love this revised version, Cherllisha! Really apt visions of ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ (am I right in recalling that’s what the Maori name for New Zealnd roughly means?) in the new last line. And ‘I lose it’ is great: it really pivots the poem into the wild second section.