Poetry: Elephant in the Room | clivejames.com
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Elephant in the Room

On slow last legs it comes to the right spot
Near the dried-up river bed where it may kneel
And die. The plain is open, with one clump of trees
Parched, bleached, more grey than green,
Much like the grass:
The perfect setting for what happens next.

What happens next is nothing. Still upright,
Precisely balanced on its bended knees,
The elephant decays. All by itself
It loses its last flesh with neither vultures
Nor hyenas to help with the unloading:
They seem to have been paid to stay away.

When all the meat is gone
There is only skin, draped thickly on its cage
Of bones. Perhaps the ants are in there
Like vagrants in the ruins of New York.
There might be termites cleaning out its tusks.
If so, it shows no signs of pain or anger.

Through hollow eyes it looks out of the screen
With what seems an inflexible resolve.
The shadow of its former self has timed
Its exit to sum up what it did best,
To bulk large as a thing of consequence
Even though emptied of its history.

A breath of wind will knock it down, an hour
Of rain wash it away, but until then,
Sustained by stillness, it is what it is:
A presence, a whole area in space
Transformed into a single living thing
That now, its time exhausted, lives no more.