A journal of art + literature engaging with nature, culture, the environment & ecology

Elegy for a Silent Stalker

Ow Yeong Wai Kit, Singapore

After Kay Ryan; for Inuka the polar bear (1990-2018)

Singapore’s last polar bear Inuka was put down on Wednesday morning (April 25) after a health check-up showed that the 27-year-old animal’s ailing health had not improved significantly… Inuka’s enclosure will be refurbished and might be turned into a sea lion exhibit.
— Straits Times, 25 April 2018

Who wouldn’t be a polar bear in the tropics?

A solitary last emperor, an Arctic ambassador

paddling a marionette dance in his own lagoon,

never to be laid adrift on dwindling ice floes

or having to forage for food scraps ebbing soon.

His shaggy pelt, his algae-ridden fleece glows

amidst rations of apples and fish. He lumbers,

the scraggly hulk heaving to bear his own weight.

Resting his neck on his hairy paws, he slumbers

in an air-conditioned palace, his jowls sagging

on artificial permafrost. He knows the tundra

is an inconceivable dream. He has no need to hunt

for an ursine paramour. Trudging across icebergs

of indifference, he licks his fur. Silently, he stalks

nothing more than his own shadow.

Ow Yeong Wai Kit has edited poetry anthologies such as From Walden to Woodlands (2015) and Love at the Gallery (2017). His writings can be found in the Interfaith Observer, Straits Times, TODAY, QLRS, and elsewhere. Currently a teacher and writer, he holds an M.A. in English Literature from University College London.

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