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

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