“For the Polar Bear at Joburg Zoo”

Issue 36 by Donatella du Plessis

“For the Polar Bear at Joburg Zoo”

They’ve painted your tank blue so you forget

how your paws flung moonstone stars across the

Northern Lights, how your cubs, seal-small, clung to

falling spires of snow and scarred, songless ice,

and are nothing now but cartoons flaking

on the old tank wall as you swim back, forth,

nutshell-bound, a queen encompassed, apart,

damp with the heat, the sun, the boiling rain.

Children swipe at the wrong side of the glass,

frenzied for a glimpse of those claws, those teeth.

But we have made a pet of you, my dear:

a bauble, an accessory, a toy.

Like the swans that the rich import as pets,

you are decorative, wings clipped.

About the Author

Donatella du Plessis

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Donatella du Plessis is an emerging writer from Durban, South Africa. She teaches English and French.