Puella pilosa – woodcut from Aldrovandi’s Monstrorum Historia, 1642
My hairs tug in the stiff ruff, get caught
in crewel work. It hurts me, but I stand
it, stand for hours as he takes my likeness
(the famous dog girl! on display for all
the continental crowns – to what else am I like?
And how, and why, would he take its like from me?)
I want to play and chase my little ball,
but know he’ll gape, grip toes within his slippers
guessing I mean next to chew his shoes.
He will feign bravura, reach his hand
to pet my head. I will be tempted to growl,
to mount his leg. He supposes sex
already; already his eyes probe beneath
my modest brocade how far my fur extends.
And suddenly, the urge to tear this dress
to show him, show them all— By dressing me
in an embroidered bodice, Bruxelles lace,
they thought to make of me an absurdity,
thought to make me finer, even svelte.
But no brocade so fine as my own pelt.