The Rhinoceros Calf

that failed to make a strong bond with its mother
& was shipped from a Florida zoo to New Mexico’s

(they’d struck a deal with the dairy farm for that baby
would drink thousands of gallons of cow’s milk)

that calf in the corner who doesn’t know I’m watching her
or thinking anything at all      & will remember her for years

will think of her often with her sugared substitute her dry
high desert air      & wonder why on the coast

in humidity & hurricane weather in an enclosure
like ours                      
                          & my children sitting beside

me on the bench where I watch   tears down my face    my
children asking why are you crying      mama     & the truth

is I don’t know      did that mother with her body
say nothing     say no      did that mother really just let go

From Girl with a Death Mask (Indiana University Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Jennifer Givhan. Used with the permission of the author.