Topsell’s Beasts revisited

You think you know
such creatures don’t exist.
No lamias with exemptile eyes
to lever out after a kill.
No fifteen-foot-necked
pliant camelopardals. And
you’ve seen no lemmings
graze in clouds.

And yet – once it was true.
They were believed in.
Like Dürer’s sad rhinoceros,
shipped all the way from India,
drowned off Italy and buried
in a woodcut: scaly legs,
a twisted horn upon his back –
I give you: the rhinoceros!

And he still is as real, as true
as any of his cousins in the zoo.
It only takes a tiny leap of faith
to believe in Topsell’s Beasts –
because you must.
Of course reindeer will make
a sound like cracking nuts
when walking

if we believe the truth
that every creature is unique –
the lamia, the camelopardal,
Dürer’s rhinoceros, and you:
unique, unfathomable
and unquestionably right 
the way you are. And this
we must believe.


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