We’ve read this story hundreds of times
and they’re always drawn to the oldest
elephant in the herd, its sagging skin,
its paper eyelids twitching like the hands
of a clock in the split-second before
the hour turns gray, then bone, then ash.
The others play or graze, oblivious to
the skull pressing through the sky’s
weary face, the rumbles of their ancestors
dusting their feet. Every time we open
the book, the elephant has aged a decade.
It could collapse at any moment.
How could I, in the blink of their eyes,
rid the room of the carcass left behind,
cleanse the air with sweet fables,
scent of animal heaven, some god
flashed down to lead the souls of dead
elephants to the sun-swept savannah
beyond the horizon of my children’s minds
so I say—no, I beg: let’s keep reading,
kiss their foreheads, which are creased
into a question the living can’t punctuate
and the dead won’t answer except in jest,
trumpeting the elephant into the room.
is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut chapbook forthcoming from
Kelsay Books in July 2021. She was a finalist in Alexandria Quarterly’s
First Line Poetry Contest and a finalist for The Magnolia Review’s Ink
Award. A Best of the Net nominee, her recent work appears in Perhappened, Emerge
Literary Journal, and Dust Poetry Magazine, among others, and she has
poems in many anthologies as well. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with
her wife and two young children.
List of publications and other details are available at poet’s blog:
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