To my imaginary child
The photo is of Obaysch who was a few days old hippo taken from the White Nile and shipped to London Zoo in 1849. At first he was very popular, but eventually, due to being placid and just swimming and sleeping a lot, he became a disappointment. Again, I picked up on the story from David Attenborough and then did some reading about what happened to this lovely hippo. Somehow what I've written turned into something personal so I give it approximately 2 hours before I freak out and delete it!
Obaysch was just a baby hippopotamus,
days old when stolen, torn from the womb of the waters
of his birth, mother shot, the traumas scalded
to retinas - after he would attach to the nearest keeper,
loving anyone, in want of love.
I am always seeking a depository for it -
I would have loved you too much,
too fearfully, and really now, I think
there has only ever been room for fear and me.
Obaysch put up a fight,
scarred by boat hook, but
you can only resist an empire for so long
before you drink its unnatural milk
mixed with maize and domination.
I would have taught you the names
of our own universe, would have tried
to hold in the shame and sadness,
I would have held your smaller hand in mine
so that we could marvel at it all together.
Obaysch was God's gift to conquerors,
an entitlement to haul him from his White Nile
to confinement, coaxed to enchant bored crowds,
to end up a zoological disappointment.
To love blindly is a kind of slavery
of the soul, I have always been untethered
as if I was a kite, once held, let go, but
I would have fed you mangoes and bravery,
I would have returned that little calf to home.
Image is from wikimedia commons: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Obaysch_1852.jpg