Miss Clara, Rhinoceros in Venice

by Martin Reiser

after Pietro Longhi

The fifth specimen, I believe, since the time of Rome
she is an old and nicely padded lady
with her skin all ruched and drooping

Poverina, ten years paraded before
Empress and Elector in the sad company
of two dwarves and a crocodile

until she ends up here, sans corno
to be gawped at by revellers
too ashamed to remove their masks.

Her horn fell off a while ago and the keeper holds it up
together with a stick to make her move,
which she is not inclined to do.

Still, the ladies like her immensely
and wear their hair in cornicello and suchlike,
so I hope to sell this canvas to a rich man without taste.

But how can one paint such a forlorn object
when she does nothing
but stand on her legs like a wardrobe?