I wrote this poem inspired by conversations I had with members of the public passing by the Hippopothames sculpture that I was poet-in-residence for during September. To be clear, there were lots of people who had very positive responses to the giant floating hippo – from a quick glance and a grin as they cycled past, all the way up to parents and kids who stopped to write hippo haikus with us, and couples who had come from abroad to take photos of themselves down on the fore-shore with this barrel-backed behemoth proud in the background.
Probably my favourite was the Polish construction worker who told me he had first seen the hippo on the news on TV back in Poland, in his living room with his kids. He had arrived in the UK a week or so later to discover that he was working at the top of a huge new tower-block with a perfect birds-eye view of the sculpture, and had popped down on his lunch to take a photo to send back home!
I was though more interested in those people who for whatever reason struggled with the very fact the thing it existed. Out of a few initially difficult but ultimately very entertaining chats came this poem!