Clive Of India's Pet Giant Tortoise Poem by Sheena Blackhall

Clive Of India's Pet Giant Tortoise

Clive of India's pet Giant Tortoise
Clive of India, turned opium addict
Committed suicide in 1774.
A sociopath and a racist, the Indians described him
Of fixed and implacable sentiments

He apparently loved his pet,
Whose kinsmen were killed and eaten
In the thousands by Europe's sailors
Much as horses are loved and eaten, in Europe today
When seasoned with condiments

They were piled on deck like pies of enormous size
A natural store of fresh water and tasty meat
Their high domed carapaces, emptied by rapacious cooks
Littering the beaches of continents

Their stocky, scaley legs, too short for speed
Were useless against human mauraders
Spurred on by hunger and greed

Giant tortoises were mild mannered
Trusting, posed no threat to man
291pounds in weight of a crew-sized meal
Far tastier than anything scraped from a can

Their giant feet dig wallows, useful tools
They hide from the sun in caves
Or conceal themselves under the shade of trees
They submerge themselves in pools

Adwaita, the Methuselah of the tribe, lived through
The French revolution, the Chinese opium wars
The Napoleonic campaigns
The publication of the communist manifesto
The Sepoy mutiny in India. The Crimean war
The abolition of slavery: the cutting of chains
World wars one and two. The Holocaust
The dropping of the atomic bomb
The falling of acid rains
Man landing on the moon
More technological advances than you could shake a stick at
The birth of the world wide web
The oncome of Climate change

If only a tortoise could talk
What might he choose of Man's efforts
To disarrange?

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