– For Nellie
When I first held you
I watched Unicorns prance
in soft fleecy pink across
your onesie as your dreaming
breathing belly rose in and out
lifting them off into the infinite
pastel possibilities of infancy.
I wondered when you’ll start
sorting your fairy tale menagerie
into fact and fiction, when Z
will still be for Zebra, but U
will have to settle for Urchin
or the Unspotted Saw-whet Owl
the Unlined Giant Chafer Beetle
the Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant
or any number of animals
defined by what they lack.
Will you still marvel at
the Unadorned Rock Wallaby
despite his lack of adornment?
Will you still respect
the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback
despite her vulnerability?
Will you accept substitutes?
The fencing Narwhal
swashbuckling the Baltic
more weaponized than majestic
The Hornbill who flies like pegasus
but shrieks, fighting for figs in the trees
When Marco Polo first laid eyes
on a Rhinoceros in the land of Basma
he wrote, Unicorns are
altogether different from what we fancied.
He bemoaned, Unicorns are
……..not in the least like that which our stories tell of.
They delight much to abide in mire and mud.
Tis a passing ugly beast to look upon.
I hope you never use myth as your measure.
When you gaze at the Unicorn trotting through
the frosted cupcake mountains on your Lisa Frank
Trapper Keeper, know that fantasy is a projection
of our inner colors, on a world both grey, and yet
so brilliant, we can’t see all the light in the spectrum.
And most of all, humor your uncle
when he pulls a mule to your birthday party,
straps a rainbow painted corn cob to its head.
When you ride old Wilbur into a sunset that stops
at the fence in your backyard, know he did the best
Unicorn impersonation his old bones could carry.
Imitation Unicorns appears in Sentinel Species, now available from Stubborn Mule Press on most online bookstores.
About the Author: Chase Dimock lives among mountain lions and coyotes in an undisclosed location between Laurel Canyon and the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. He serves as the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be Magazine and makes his living teaching literature and writing at College of the Canyons. His poetry has been published in Waccamaw, Hot Metal Bridge, Faultline, Roanoke Review, New Mexico Review, and Flyway among others. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and his scholarship in World Literature and LGBT Studies has appeared in College Literature, Western American Literature, Modern American Poetry, The Lambda Literary Review, and several edited anthologies. For more, visit chasedimock.com
Image Credit: from “Historiae naturalis de quadrupedibus libri” (1657) Image Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library