Albert Dürer’s Rhinoceros 1515
Dürer’s rhinoceros, you strange beast who so gravely
fill the picture space with your solemn body.
Hide in heavy shields like some knight and grave figure
off on an Adventure. What damsel will you
find, you the sole unicorn that actually existed?
One can see that you have come from afar
and do not belong to Franconia’s dark valleys.
What would not be needed to penetrate
this body and reach right in to your heart?
A silver bullet perhaps? To capture you
in some patiently plaited net cannot have been easy,
no less than to keep you alive as long as this,
and all this only to capture you a second time,
in the terrible net of the picture,
and this time for ever.
What were you thinking? How still did you stand? What fear
can you have felt in your far too armour-plated heart?
The maestro turned you into a knight,
larger, more melancholy, more armour-plated
than any of the others in his pictures.
Perhaps more innocent as well.
You are The Beast That Stands Stock-Still
in the midst of the cold current and take in
with your tiny but trustingly alert eyes
every image that light reflections make in the water.
His own knight. His own dragon.
Ready for everything.