A donkey brayed and scared his mother witless
when she was shopping weeks before his birth.
The fell results had prompted one keen witness,
seeing child and mother lying south of Perth,
to venture that vampire bats would be scared shirtless
at ears like these, each one of which could girth
Paul’s baby wrists or circumscribe his head.
‘It’s asinine,’ a watching wizard said.
See Paul, a wizard swimmer: his ears trail
his head like lampreys homing on a shark.
Ashore, the child’s otology entails
such friction that his ear fur starts to spark
and constitutes a danger to the rail,
the curlew, and the tern docked in the park.
This gets Paul banned from summer in the bush
and forced into the city, on his tush.
His exile to the city in the summer:
Paul spent his nights awake up on the roof
aspiring to an honest trade, or plumber.
Impervious to the rains, ears waterproof,
he tried to get a thing on with a slummer
but she, one look sufficing, stood to hoof
it while she screamed, ‘you spacey bat-eared prevert!’
This wasn’t right. Paul heard that, and it hurt.
Paul slipped his Perth at seventeen, in April,
and journeyed to Canaveral in a Greyhound
he had boarded in Hoboken, where a shrill
but prudent maid made haste to look around
for other transport, leaving Paul’s lank build
collapsed across both seats. Incoming sound
from pointing fellow passengers had kept
his ears and spirits down. He’d cried and slept.
Brown pelicans awakened Paul on the asphalt
where Greyhound’s own SecureCorps personnel
had lain him while he slept closed as a vault.
The pelicans were scuffling for a shell
Paul brought from Perth, when with a somersault
he gained his feet and their attention fell
while nearly-human eyes espied his feat:
a Cocoa bunny girl who yelped, ‘That’s neat!’
Paul gaped as she approached him, hand on hip,
this sunny girl who, taking off her shades,
revealed mammalian eyes that made him flip
his mammoth ears and fan the lemonades
in her brown hands. Sweat dewed her rabbit lip
and Paul was pole axed. Not since gasconades
of mermaids mesmerised him on the Reef
had Paul’s three ventricles shown bas-relief.
‘That’s swell. I’m Gert-Anne. Grapevine tipped your ship.
That runny gull’s a poached hen. Fook off. Hades!’
the star-tanned bunny yelled, ‘And here’s a tip,
not of a tail, I don’t have one, that some Ganges
dude gurus taught me bathing there last trip:
“Keep both your socks on.” Here comes our Mercedes.’
Paul looked up at the nearing car in wonder
as exhaust smells mixed with asphalt made him chunder,
or would have, had the chauffeur not extended
breath mints to boy and girl and to the pelicans.
As he bundled Paul and Gert-Anne in, and fended
the birds off, Paul, who knew from films Republicans
had limousines like this with big extended
antennas, air-cos, and gilt jerry cans
of champagne punch, had felt himself au fait.
The engine started smoothly, pulled away.
‘You rabbit giants: wave nothing but your ears
and keep the carpets clean,’ a burly man
Paul hadn’t seen sat up. The man appeared
as large in the dark car as a small van.
At these harsh words young Paul burst into tears.
‘I’m far too young to be well hung. The span
for hanging me still not has been erected,’
he sobbed, first growing tired and then dejected.
In too few hours the limo brought them down
into Fort Myers with all the faux cachet
high flyers favour. Spinning them around
and gliding gator-like onto the causeway,
the chauffeur said, ‘Here’s Sanibel, low ground
with prices higher than a possum, day
and night left on the roadside in the heat.
It’s a corking place you space spies chose to meet.’
‘Spies!’ the boy brayed through his chittering teeth.
« Comme ci comme ça,’ Gert-Anne said, twitched her haunches.
They stopped for gas, the big man bought a wreath.
They all got out and gawked at sun-fired launches,
the yachts, a U boat, smalls of Teddy Heath,
and spotted tourists whose protruding paunches
were purpling well and burbling on hermetic-
ally, as soft-shelled crabs went pre-emetic.
‘Come on,’ the big man said, ‘I see the bonefish
skiff we’ve chartered for your one-way ride.
It’s fast enough but lacks a decent nav dish
but I can steer by sight and with the tide
we’ll slip by those magnolias with a swish
and before the Commies spot us you’re inside.’
Paul knows it’s ‘mangroves’ from his travel books
and fears he’s been abducted by dumb crooks.
His danger is much greater: these are scientists
and they’ve selected him, also Gert-Anne,
to help a powerful ruler’s plot to twist
opinion, force the UN’s averse hand
to start Mars terraforming. He’ll assist
as will the others lined up on the sand
or be fed to the crabs assembling wide
of the crocs and gators on the other side.