To the Giant Ground Sloth
……….in the Natural History Museum
You surprised me, lurking in a gallery
of framed plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs –
those fossils like fish bones on tinfoil
but pleasantly; not like the stranger
in a stained tracksuit who flashed his cock
in an underpass when I was fourteen.
They’ve given you a tree to embrace.
It’s branchless; you caress its smooth bark
between broad claws and stumpy legs
cast in plaster under Victorian arches.
Evolution reduced you, forced you
to climb trees you once stood eye-high to.
Evolution exhausted you. His shadow
rests on bricks the shade of old urinals.
First published in Brittle Star 41
Natalie Whittaker is a secondary school teacher and poet. Her debut pamphlet is forthcoming from ignitionpress in October 2018.