30. The charms of zinc

Commonplace, uncolourful,
conventionally tainted by
association with damp table tops
in bistros and the like,
zinc seems destined to evoke
nothing but grey metallic thoughts.

And yet it’s pretty in the coat
it spangles over sheeted steel,
crystal patterns glinting
as the cutter strikes and throws
a golden wrap of sparks
over its thin shoulders.

And in audacious calamine
it dresses up in shocking pink
to dab and chasten and face down
the hot gaze of the sun,
and turn young kids with chicken pox
into a slapdash comedy show.

Inside us, too, the zinc-y molecules
are always in a flutter,
sweeping round the body’s galleries
in a non-stop bustle of catalysis,
keeping our proteins up to scratch
and looking really good.

– David Morphet 2011