from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Lost Species poem 16: Shirley Wright

Well, in case there are any of you out there who don't 'do' poetry – perish the thought! – I'd imagined I would write one of those Ragbag posts people seem to like, to punctuate all these weeks of poems; besides, it's ages since I wrote one. However, once I'd hit the 3000 word mark in my Ragbag draft, I started to think in terms of 2 or 3 blogposts. So I gave up.

And then, thankfully, I remembered Shirley Wright's fine poem. Here it is. Ragbag another day.


He has sucked the light
from the stars,
swallowed day and night,
tucked the moon

into a velvet pelt
so thick I struggle to breathe.
Matt black has never felt
more like drowning in soot

fathoms deep as he
paces the length of bars
there to protect me.
I would tear them down

if I could, replant
the Amazon and howl
like a baboon. But I can’t
conjure the jungle’s roar,

the covenant of wild and real.
Instead, I watch him circle,
take his photo, flinch as I feel
his glance graze my skin.

© Shirley Wright 

This poem won 2nd prize in the Poetry Space competition. Shirley Wright’s excellent poetry collection, The Last Green Field, is published by IDP.


  1. I've always hated zoos - to see animals capable of huge speed pacing up and down a restricted area twists my heart. This is another beautiful poem - thank you Roselle and Shirley

  2. Me too, Angie. Can't bear zoos, and the fact that we go to 'view' wild things behind bars, though I also hear the 'conservation and education' angle. Still.

    Rainer Maria Rilke's well-known poem on the panther is SO strong I wasn't initially sure about posting another, but I ended up feeling that SW"s wasn't just a pale imitation but something very human, and engaged.


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