Image by Richard Henson

The Heavy-Petting Zoo

Clare Pollard


The Heavy-Petting Zoo

Clare Pollard


The Heavy-Petting Zoo

The Heavy-Petting Zoo

It's your best friend's 16th birthday party.
That's eight hamster lives, and yet she still wasn't wise enough
to realise it would turn into a heavy-petting zoo.
Let's put it this way - you wouldn't bring the family,
and there's an awful lot of stroking going on.

The lounge crawls with muzzy, fuzzy pubic mice.
You want to hibernate, but every bedroom is locked.
(That soft-haired girl from the Shetlands is offering rides.)

You could have been a part of it -
for a small price at the door you could have had them
eating out of your hand by now,
felt that breathy, hot nuzzle-lick,
but instead you're floundering in your own sour
vinegar juices, like a sick terrapin.

The other girls are beautiful and brittle chicks,
eggs precarious and smashable in the cups of their bras,
and he's with her somewhere.

They're probably mewling cutely at each other,
or else she's stripped and pink as a piglet
and they're at it like rabbits.
It's sickeningly bestial.
You hope they get myxomatosis.

Yet in your small child's heart you know
that if he'd called you, you'd have followed him as she did.

As a lamb does, whitely and without question.


from The Heavy-Petting Zoo (Bloodaxe, 1998), © Clare Pollard 1998, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Clare Pollard Reading from her poems

1The Heavy-Petting Zoo

2The Bridesmaid

3Breakfast Poem

4Still Life

5Fears of a Hypochondriac Insomniac

6Buying Manhattan

7Posing for Dante Gabriel Rossetti

8To Undefine

9Fantasy Dinner Party

10And Desire Shall Fail

11Mission Beach

12To Depression

13To Christchurch

14The Chain

15The Bad News

16Notes to Self

17For my Fiancé

18For the Other Ones

19For my Future Daughter

20Cordelia at the Service Stop

21Tam Lin's Wife

22The Panther

23Pendle

24Waiting for the Kettle to Boil, Lancashire

25October Roses

26The Skulls of Dalston

27First Sunflowers

28Introducing that Most Marvellous Human Freak, the Bearded Lady Miss Lupin

29The Two Ravens

30The Wood

31The Caravan

Books & cds by Clare Pollard