When Elephants

Christina's pictures 398
When Elephants

I read a book
“when elephants weep”
about tears that look like tar, as impossible
to scrape away

about the grief
of elephants–the messages
sent through shaken
earth-

and then I put the book
on a shelf made of composite wood
and only every once in a while, would catch
the title etched grey along
black spine, maybe while fetching
my raincoat–

wanting somehow not to feel,
to cover, how our world eats
suffering–
I don’t mean meat here, or only–
cows with their kabuki faces
in spring, elephant calfs pink
as raw steaks–

but how we eat land,
trees, air–

and how so many only worry about elephants as large canaries
in this
cold mine–

Oh Christ, we think,
unable to number the species
whose paths we’ve crossed–

****************************
another draft poem for some day in April, for the heck of it, and also for Fireblossom (Shay’s ) prompt on Real Toads about elephants. (Second of those–neither is a great poem! Agh!)  Pic is of some old bones at the American Museum of Natural History (I believe some here may be of elephants/mastodons given what looks like a bit of tusk protruding.) 

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13 Comments on “When Elephants”

  1. whimsygizmo Says:

    Gah. Yes. My first title was “Ivory Sorrow,” but then I just.couldn’t.write.it. You have done so here, beautifully.

  2. Sherry Marr Says:

    YES! I have that book too, and its title leaps out at me often…….in my poem, a real elephant weeps. This poem really speaks to me………we have made such a botch of it……..it should all be so much better.


  3. Ah.. that line about the elephants being big canaries chills me… this is exactly the sentiment I wanted to give in my poem on how the west was won and what Victoria wrote in her cowboy poem… maybe a sad theme for a book… (but it would be a painful read).

  4. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    This is wonderful, and might also suit the earth day prompt.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    “..how our world eats
    suffering–” yes, we seem (as a species) to thrive on that diet, but I think like so much poor nutrition that appeals to our lowest tastes, it will kill us in the end..blindingly real and full of sorrow.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I wanted the “mines” to be mine–as in me and mine and grabbyness–and wonder whether I shouldn’t put in in quotes. Of course, the cold is somehow supposed to be the awful detachment of that. (Probably some people will think I’ve just mistaken coal mines.) I don’t know.

      I was thinking today of a more positive elephant thing I’ve done–with pics–but of course, elephants are something I’m somehow particularly drawn to. k.

      • hedgewitch Says:

        I dunno that quotes would do much to clarify–‘cold of me and mine’ perhaps, but then you lose the immediacy of that construction and the word play. I did mostly get the feeling that mine was a double entrendre, and I think the meaning you want to express is definitely there..

  6. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    And to think there is not another creature like the elephant anywhere in the universe, multiverse, except those whose lives are wasted daily in the most careless way. Goes for every living thing on this rock.


  7. Unutterable grief.

    “messages
    sent through shaken
    earth-”

    Powerful writings both, K. Thank you.

  8. Sanaa Rizvi Says:

    Powerful! I truly adore your empathy towards these glorious creatures 🙂

  9. coalblack Says:

    I read that book 20 years ago and never forgot it.


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