1. Photograph from 1956. Man with funny hat stare down Rhinoceros.
Besides hat, man unremarkable. Animal, stunning.
Head tipped back to bring drooping lip to antagonist’s nose. Blessing.
Two horns, one curve back and over other, aimed straight up. Most charming ear. Rhinoceros. Beautiful.
2. Man confused. Man say, Where is your armor? All the pictures show
armor. All I see is skin.
3. Europeans not understand. In 16th century, first Rhinoceros
drawn wrong—plated armor and scales. Wrong. Second, too. No one
capture likeness. Paint her hard and too-many horned. Ready for battle.
Early description: “The most horrible teeth.”
4. Man scold Rhinoceros. Rhinoceros look obstinate. She say no, I
beautiful. You see my ear? Perfect curves. See how thick my skin? Silly
hat. You face no scare. I Rhinoceros. Beautiful.
5. Rhinoceros remember Clara: 3rd Rhinoceros in Europe since Romans. Big attraction. Clara like God. Display to royalty, commoners feed beer.
Appreciate oranges and tobacco smoke blown up nose. Owner rich. Clara
drunk. At least portrait right.
6. Man stern. Rhinoceros, man say, why must you insist? Please move
along. You’ve crushed my petunias.
7. Rhinoceros remember Bernhard Siegfried Albinus: author of unpronounceable anatomy book. Decide human body boring. Ask artist: spice up plates. Put pictures of Clara in background.
See Clara lurk behind anatomically correct skeleton, chomp a carrot!
See tiny tail frisk behind pelvic cavity!
8. Man in photograph Salvador Dali. No petunias. Funny hat. Searching.
Dali not know Clara or skeleton. Not know blow smoke up nose.
Dali confused by horns. Consider own pointy hat. Come to no conclusion.
Rhinoceros say: even Dali not see. All his melting clocks, animal form.
9. To be clear: Rhinoceros, me. Not in picture, but am
Rhinoceros. You understand? Lurk behind skeleton, sneak oranges
from passersby. Blow smoke up nose. Pass me a cold one. My name
mean light. No. My name mean woman. No. Rhinoceros. Beautiful.
Say it again.
Always stare. Not see. They grow rich; I, drunk. Only way to
keep this sane. Have no funny hat. Clutch all these blessings. Them fall
from hands again and again. Keep still. Not ready for battle.
I have so much skin. Perfect curves, melting.
Say it again.