White Rhino

The last of my kind, one of the last lovers of flowers
and the lawns of the northern grasses, and certainly
one of the few able to rub backsides with the baobab
and the century-nearing oak still surviving in the yard.

The trick is stone, to look like something broken
from a mountain, something so leftover so as not
to be alive, yet resemble in demeanor dream anger,
the kind that wakes you out of breath talking to yourself

in that language that starts in the belly and the bowel.
Old age is a disguise, the hard outside, the soft inside.
Even the plated armor is turning dust, then one foot
after the other, neuropathy my gravity, the footprint

larger, deeper. I hardly recognize myself except in
memory, except when the mind overwhelms the lonely
body. So I lumber on, part of me empty, part of me
filled with longing—I’m half-blind but see what I see,

the half sun on the hill. How long a life is too long,
as I take my time from here to there, the one world
dried-out distances, nose, horn, my great head lifted down,
the tonnage of my heart almost more than I can carry....

Copyright © 2019 Stanley Plumly. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, May/June 2019. Reprinted with permission of David Baker for the Estate of Stanley Plumly.