Bristol, c. 1972.

There may have been one
at the zoo.
We scurried in pairs,
shoved, chattered like vervets
on our junior school trip –
cagoules, satchels, sandwiches.

Mrs Cheeseman told us to keep together,
not get lost in the crowds.
Lions snored, ignoring us.
The tiger, prison-barred,
bored, glared at nothing.
Mrs Cheeseman said it might as well be stuffed,
visitors would see it better.
We made notes, rustled ideas,
sketched animals in action.
I drew an elephant, standing;
then another, lying.
Mrs Cheeseman told me
not to waste paper.
So now, looking
at that scrap book,

I don’t know if
the rhino was there,
undrawn, or
already gone.

Myfanwy Fox

 

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