So today’s prompt is to write an animal poem, incorporating some factual material. This prompt coincided with a forward from a friend about elephant rescue, and the link at NaPoWriMo to elephant facts. Besides, I have always had a special fondness for elephants, ever since childhood, when my favourite was a stuffed elephant, not your usual stuffed bear. I remember the little lullaby it played. And I remember my mother washing it to clean its dirty white, only to have it turn pink when the dye from its red parts ran in the water (what WERE those parts? I can’t remember that now!) I had written an elephant poem draft awhile ago, which I have incorporated into a new draft today.
Giant of Africa
This cumbersome beast brought low behind zoo walls
gazes at gawkers with a sad wrinkled eye. A solitary grief.
Perhaps he mourns his lost savannah, his herd back home,
too far distant to hear his low-frequency laments.
Instead, his growled rumble greets captive companions,
gathered at shared water source, rubbing each other
with tender affection, their raised trunks in salutation,
or gentle tusks left or right, whichever each may favour.
While he grazes on grass, lunches on leaves, teases down
his feast of twigs, bark and seed pods, he remembers
days of freedom, years of circus dancing, just another
trained bear, driven by animals of lower intelligence.
Though equal in cortex and neuron, his human master
inferior in self-knowledge and compassion.
Imagine altruism in this giant of Africa. What fear twists
in the human mind that allows us to torture and degrade?
We poach him to extinction, stand motionless as
the majesty of Elephant fades into natural history—
one more once was.
Carol A. Stephen
April 6, 2012