Happy (?) Pangolin Day (1 Poem)

Chinese Pangolin


I wear my judge, jury, obituary—

filigree of wealth,
sidefooting through trawled forests

desolate as the surface
of mars.

Taikonaut. Don’t

apologise to me—
golden fatted, too precious to live.

I know it— and wear my charms,

my murky jade chains

with diffidence. I’ll die,
or pluck them out like fingernails
and die all the same

in the shrinking full moon
of a winter snare

wearing my infused riches,
the gaudy tea stains

round the ancient pot of my skin—

pearly leper,
I’ll harry myself to the mountains
with a spread-eagled curse

and lodge in a sleeve of ceramic earth
charred to a crisp.

All I desire from life is:

a certificate declaring death
by natural causes,

not this menu hanging over me
like an aerial tombstone,
not this full body rust

and quickening corrasion,

with a dab of the tongue:

snuffed embers.



A Chinese Pangolin. For more info see: Arkive , Pangolins.org , and WWF


Note: The Chinese Pangolin is one of the most endangered of Pangolin species in the world. Seeing as Pangolins on the whole are globally the most trafficked animal, it’s easy to see how desperate a situation this is for the creature. It is threatened by demand for its meat and scales from a number of countries including Vietnam and China. Although recent changes to poaching laws in a number of SE Asian and African nations are a good start to combating poaching, much remains to be done.

I first encountered the Pangolin in poem form. Marianne Moore’s (poet extraordinaire and wearer of amazing hats) ‘The Pangolin’ combines acute perception with an alertness to connections between the natural world and questions of grace, art, and animal selfhood. I’ve been building up to writing something about it for a while now; maybe this’ll be the year it finally happens…


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