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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 7: March 2021
Poem: 174 words
By Julie Weiss

The Elephant in the Room


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. 


Julie Weiss
Issue 7, March 2021

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: Welcome to My Renaissance

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