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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This poem is taken from PN Review 266, Volume 48 Number 6, July - August 2022.

Jacky Fleur Adcock
i.m. Jacqueline Simms, 1940–2021

Let’s go back in time, Jacky,
now that the present is not much fun,
to the menagerie you proposed,
entitled The Oxford Book of Creatures.

The range would be from whale to amoeba,
we agreed: Moby Dick to Cell DNA.
The whole of literature was eligible,
although with a limit on dogs and cats,

I was to find the poems, you the prose.
I plodded through alphabetical shelves
in libraries. You consulted friends,
and turned the project into a party.

Our final editorial meeting
was like a horizontal version of
varnishing day at the Academy,
with photocopies as the exhibits;

they spread all over the floor of my study
in loops and chains and winding circuits,
overlapping, sparking connections,
wandering in and out of categories.

We crawled among them, tweaking the order,
introducing them to each other:
Darwin and Pliny and DH Lawrence,
Beatrix Potter in bed with some fleas,

Richmal Crompton’s William leading
a posse of rats; one of  Drake’s mariners
dining on a ‘a fowl whose flesh is like
a fat goose’. (We call it a penguin.)

I’ll sit with your checked rug over my knees
(who else would think of arriving for lunch
with a rug instead of flowers?) Thank you,
dear Jacky, for inviting me aboard your ark.

This poem is taken from PN Review 266, Volume 48 Number 6, July - August 2022.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk
Further Reading: - Fleur Adcock More Poems by... (11) Articles by... (2) Reviews of... (11)
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