Sarah Havlin

The Mad Polar Bear

There were no tigers in Belfast zoo.
Down the slope of Cavehill to the sea in the east
There wasn’t much there at all, back in 1982
Except that pitiful Arctic beast
Padding his huge white paws,
Engaged in the steps of an eternal reel.
Swinging his bowed head, and in a brief pause
Turning to the same beat for each repeat, to feel
his way back to the start of his recurring groove.

Oblivious to the light, the water, the space;
Retracing his pace
Of the old familiar cage
Where he will forever be
Never free.

I watch him with small eyes peeking
From a tightly zipped cagoule.
Does he feel the rain beating
His snow coat to a slush of grey, hear the cruel
Taunts and the bay of the crowd’s call?
He never lets on. Just plods his four steps to oblivion
Until he hits the invisible wall
Tugged back by the tightrope he lives on.
And so he goes on. Walking but sleeping.

Oblivious to the light, the water, the space;
Retracing his pace
Of the old familiar cage
Where he will forever be
Never free.

Outside of here, there’s nowhere to go
That isn’t bombed or boarded up tight.
High on this hill is the only place I know
That feels safe. Outside the air swells high,
Pregnant with hunger and hate.
But here, there are pools for him to dive in
And they’ve even built giant fake
Caves for him to hide in
Where he can never go.

Oblivious to the light, the water, the space;
Retracing his pace
Of the old familiar cage
Where he will forever be
Never free.



Sarah Havlin is a solicitor by profession and started to write part-time whilst studying Creative Writing with the Open University.

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