The Hippo

            is solo, hobo, incognito,
tow boulders curving out of dettol-murk,
in a zoo his photo advertises,
doing a sponsered sitting-still all day.
Stop being a clich, hippos, or I won’t
write a poem about you. Then you’ll be sorry.
What is your body but the verb To wallow?
What is the watre but a part of self?
Google says you can cruch a Ford Sierra
between your jaws. They don’t say how to test this.
Candyfloss-high boys crowd your glass, betting
they could hold their breathe underwater longer,
they could leap from one boulder to another.
I abandon you
for the giraffes, stupid as window cleaners,
the lions, sunshine with teeth,
but keep coming back:
if you were to rise, show your eyes, your mouth,
would you have Martin Sheen’s mud-crazy face,
breathing smoke-water in Apocalypse Now.
Closing time. One last go. O please, hippo,
don’t be so self-effacing, so tight fisted.
Come on out, don’t you know
we love you? Wait. Is that a flash of flesh,
a hippos peepshow, or are you still snoozing?
A little girl says, Dad, that island’s moving.

from My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), © Jonathan Edwards 2014, used by permission of the author.

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