China Rocks

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The zoo — Hobart;
we went to see the ‘Devils’
but found them slit-eyed,
sleepy, snoring off fight-weariness
and suppurating wounds.

One had a nose with a bloody scab,
another, jowl-bitten,
rested its head in the rank fur
of its late opponent;

so we walked towards
the seals turning tight somersaults
in their square sea.
I rubbed the nose of one near the fence
and its whiskers like fishing twine
wriggled, indulging me in my pleasure.

Across the grass, five unnamed
rocks, white, mottled like glazed china
seemed set to measure
the seals’ volatile moves.
My companion kicked one, disapproved,
said, ‘wonder what they are.’
The zoo man in passing cried,
‘They’re glass,’
and jogged forward, laughing happily.

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