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This poem is taken from PN Review 63, Volume 15 Number 1, September - October 1988.

Two Poems Robert Saxton

The Manatee and the Dugong

The manatee: sounds like an obsolete
Aristocrat versed in flamboyant formalities.
The Spanish Church declared her fish, not meat,
Commandeering a delicacy for Fridays -
Such delicacy as grossness magnifies,
Bolted-on crust of barnacles and algae,
Grey-green submersible streaming seaweed and flies
Columbus took for mermaid hair in 1493

Off Haiti. Too much grog. Yet there's a poetry
Easy to evoke, an almost pastoral mood,
The sea cow grazing its water meadow, placidly
Chewing the cud of its favourite food,
Water hyacinths - a hundred kilos a day.
Teeth trundle from the rear in a second wave
Relieving the line worn down, in disarray.
...


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