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Sport 19: Lightworks

Elizabeth Smither — The Sloth

page 176

Elizabeth Smither

The Sloth

Nightly on television the sloth
descends part of a tree in his
allotted advertisement slot.

We see part of a profile, a
suggestion of folded claw
and a nose that seems sunk in sleep

honey-fuzzed, like some more energetic
bear caught rifling a hive.
No leaves (for food) appear:

the sloth's between one food source
and the ground: awful dilemma
to go up or down

or simply in a dreamtime pause
and allow natural camouflage
to send flickering signals to the brain

one claw and then one claw, three toes
or two, too slow for image to explain
but only marvel that he moves

lifting a coiling-designed paw
and arm which so logically extends
his desire to hang on

like a fur grappling hook
disguised in such loose vagueness
we forget it and the sloth's purpose

page 177

which must be to instruct
in gentle Doomsday frame
how gentle the fall in dreams

how equal the real pauses
and how the sloth measures these
both remembering and forgetting.