It’s too bad that we have to suffer,
said the elephant to me.
If all we were was this imposing presence,
could spend our days as splendid giants,
feeding, sleeping, reproducing,
rumbling over the Savannah on cushioned feet.
But we’re just like you.
A twinge in the left front foot
can’t keep a secret from the brain.
A pain in the belly
sends its message to all parts.
And bullets the size of small torpedoes
can bust our skin, crush our skulls,
all for the pagan love of ivory.
I don’t keep track of our numbers.
That’s your job.
The only count that matters
is the makeup of the herd.
Should one die,
so violently, so needlessly,
the communal soul can never really heal.
And there’s a few of us, like me,
volunteered by strangers
to live out our years
as living dioramas,
working wonders with trunks,
to coax you over to our side.
We’re like a permanent African love letter
to the ones who smile, even laugh,
at our antics, our behaviors,
but who harbor, in their human midst,
the ones who make the rifles,
those that sell them,
those that pull the trigger.
Elephants don’t speak ordinarily.
But on paper, they have a mind too.