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Even before we passed the bears (who sat
Like mourners in a church, their great brown paws
Still and flat across their knees), we heard her sing,
A high, sweet echo of cathedral song.
And when we turned the corner, there she was,
A slender woman sheathed in red who leaned
Against the pool and sang a plangent song
To all the penguins swimming in the blue.
Beneath the surface they flashed, their wings
More gray than black, their too-thin bellies clean
And pale as faded whites just from the wash.
Her voice was full of grief, as if she knew
About diminishment, about the trapped.
She sang to all that’s broken, bruised, or flawed.