From Issue II (2017)
by SUSAN RICHARDSON
There won’t be a manual.
Don’t expect instructions to be etched,
as scrimshaw, on a tooth.
Don’t panic-flick through Moby-Dick.
Begin with the insides.
Don’t try to refine the design—
just bear in mind, as you loop
mile of intestines,
that you’ll need to add an enzyme
which can form chyme from plastic.
Though you’ll flail many times, waist-deep
in spermaceti, you must never fail
to grin. A frown
will rigidify collapsible ribs;
a curse could shift blowhole
When straining to start its skiff-sized heart,
cling, like a giant squid, to your task,
till your will inflicts suction cup marks
on its rippling Pacific of skin.
Make sure you’ve got thrash metal blaring
as you fill it with clicks
on the off-chance
that this’ll prepare it for decades of drilling
and seismic tests.
Be ready for the moment when it outknows you,
when the weight of its brain takes over
and it goads you
to renovate yourself.
Susan Richardson is a Wales-based poet, performer, and educator whose third collection of poetry, skindancing, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2015. She is currently poet-in-residence with both the Marine Conservation Society and the global animal welfare initiative, World Animal Day. She is also the co-founder and poetry editor of Zoomorphic, the online journal that features writing in celebration and defense of wild animals. Her fourth collection of poetry, themed around endangered marine species, was published in 2018. Her website is susanrichardsonwriter.co.uk.