Black Rhinoceros

The Black Rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo
Eating sweet potatoes, carrots, and bread
Looked like my uncle’s extended family
Crowding around the table at Thanksgiving.

Mrs. Movehill suddenly started crying
On the second-grade bus, which often stalled,
And the next day we had a substitute teacher
Who said that rhinos have poor eyesight

And swivel their tube-shaped ears in all directions
So they can hear their enemies approaching, lions
And people who carve their horns into daggers
Or mash them into pain relievers.

My parents bought my shoes on discount
At Wolinsky & Levy, and so whenever I raised
Either foot my sole said “Damaged.”
That’s why I kept my feet close to the floor.

When Mrs. Movehill returned, she wore dark
Dresses and told us that the Black Rhinoceros
Is the same muddy color as the White Rhinoceros,
Which is strange, if you think about it, and we did.

What does it feel like to have two horns
Tilting up on a huge head, Mr. Rhinoceros?
You lumber around in your skin of armor
Like an exiled general or a grounded unicorn.

Everyone knows that a pachyderm in peril
Would still rather live in the open savannah.
We can’t tell if you are trumpeting forward
Or backward in your scrubby house.