The Thaw
Susan Richardson

The man who brings forth life from ice has left
and there was just one breath
between his last chip and the first   drip  drip   from my wing tip —
one breath which bridged my birth and the birth of my death,
one brief breath of perfection.

Those in charge claim they wish to save me.
They pose for photos right beside me,
arms thrown round the shape which was, a moment ago, my shoulder.
Click click, shiny smiles:
meanwhile, their hands’ heat hastens my decay.

I dream of being carved from an arctic of ice,
from a berg so big millennia would bridge my beginning and my end.
With all my might I visualise white — so hard I think I’m winning,  
           til drip
                  drip —
                     my blubber’s thinned to nearly nothing.

I’m binge-eating heat against my will —
down goes the blistering pill of the sun with one swallow.
I won’t last, you know, much past tomorrow —  if you blinkblink   
             you’ll miss my shift to liquid
                  from solid.

I resolve though, to dissolve with dignity
to brave the tingles      pins and needles     pain
          as I pass from ice     to space
           til all of me       
                flippers to beak      fades to memory,
     til even this

penguin on ice
Note: Byung-Soo Choi is a South Korean environmental artist who specialises in sculpting penguins from blocks of ice, which he then leaves to melt outside Parliament buildings and at international environmental conferences.