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Spring 2012

Ippopotamo

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mostly found poem,
La Specola, Florence



You are looking to a specimen
whose exact age is unknown,
but it must be ca. 300 years old
as it probably lived in the Boboli Gardens
during the reign of Cosimo III de’ Medici
(1670–1723).

It is still visible the mark of the rope,
the sign of its captivity,
around its neck.

The hippopotamus is reported
in the Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti’s catalogue,
compiled in 1763, and it is almost certainly
one of the oldest specimens
displayed in the Museum.

Its age is also revealed
by the clumsy execution
of the stuffing and mounting,
and through the animal’s expression.

It was likely not observed alive
as the legs are mounted as a plantigrade
walks with entire sole of the foot
touching the ground

although it is a digitigrade
walks so that only toes
touch the ground


Detritus of empire,
mouth awkwardly gaped,
threatening, the corners
beginning to tear, too many teeth shoved in.



—Daisy Fried



Daisy Fried is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently My Brother Is Getting Arrested Again.
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