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The Rhinos

‘Clara the Rhinoceros’; painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1749
Staatliches Museum Schwerin
‘Clara the Rhinoceros’; painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1749

We meet under the stars, touch noses
In the dark. Our secret greeting.

Our nocturnal meetings are brief, but friendly.
Sometimes I pretend to be asleep.

We really aren’t
The loners you think. We snort and cluck
When we’re together. Our private conversation.

The enchilada of Africa—the whole
Kalahari—is our kitchen.
I’m only interesting to smaller males.

We’re not in a hurry
To copulate. I swing my head from side to side,
Then run away. It’s called flirting.

Our dusty hides are thick, but sensitive.
I capture bugs by accident in my teeth.

By day we don’t gather,
Just do our own thing. I poke my nose
In a mud hole, splash around in my piss.

I’d rather not have a bath
If I can help it. My powerful smell.

We’re vanishing
As I speak. One by one, we go missing
From the bare savannah.

Above, the high sky.
Our canopy, our heaven.