Seven elephant calves
huddled in the wooden kraal.
Tears streamed gray trails through golden
dust collected on their leathery skin
as trunks snaked across trembling faces and bodies
seeking solace and familiarity.
On that inconceivable day,
two-leggeds pulled and prodded the seven
over long dusty roads, away
from the Zambezi river valley, away
from a vanishing parade of female Elders.
Who would teach them to be elephants?
A new moon darkened the savannah,
while fourteen ears heard murmurs of
a wind-garbled tale the Matriarch
trumpeted as she sketched reprisal
to a fervent battalion of Cows.
Arriving as barely discernible silhouettes,
the Ladies encircled the hut
where every man slept off
a late night’s whiskey.
At the Matriarch’s signal,
the Madams stomped until carcasses
merged soil and thatching grass
into one flattened mass.
Dulari the Eldest freed the seven calves
pulling boards from the walls of the kraal.
Trunk to tail to trunk to tail they fled
deep into Africa’s shadows
where sojourned in a sacred circle, Crons’ trunks
fingered every inch of the seven rescued ones
with coos and moans and rumbles
that rendered them home.
The prompt at We Write Poems this week ask that we revise an old piece. In November of 2009 I wrote a poem a day from a different word each day. The word for this piece was kraal. It is a corral for livestock in Africa.
My intention in revision was to give the reader a better for feel for the elephants. The original piece is here: kraal
wild and intimate
universal feelings of motherhood
Another good story. You tell it sparely, yet with such details that I have strong visuals from it. Really like that last line.
My mom and I both loved elephants since… forever. Something about my father’s reading Kipling and the elephants’ graveyard, plus the good luck symbol of an elephant with a raised trunk. These amazing, huge, gorgeous creatures are being slaughtered so that some jerk can get an imagined erection… a tragedy. But this poem brings new truth to the old line, “When Mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” My sympathies for poachers, in this case, were on the side of the pachyderms; that is, none whatsoever. GREAT WRITE! Amy
Wow – this hits hard! What beautiful imagery (even when the image is an ugly one). I think this poem works VERY well.
I absolutely adore this. The first stanza broke my heart. And, I don’t think I’ve ever been so delighted by the stomping of carcasses!
I love that part too! Nothing like rooting for the death of assholes. ha!
A beautiful story, Brenda. I think the revised version puts the story across better.
Me too, thanks Irene. This was a good prompt, although I don’t enjoy revising. 😛
Awwww… You know for many years I was a vegetarian. Not a strict vegan but, I just didn’t eat meat and, am more or less one again now. I love all animals and think they too (just like us) have souls, my reasoning being, most animals know how to nurture, care for their young and, they protect them with their own lives, therefore they alos know love. I figured how can I eat something that knows how to love… that and the dreadful inhumane treatment of the animals we factory farm to eat now. Their treatment is shameful. Anyway, I digress, elephants too are such beautiful creatures and have been so badly abused, and still are in some places, too.
As you can tell, this struck a cord in me. One up for the elephants!
I believe animals can teach us so much about how to really live in harmony with this earth, so different to what we have been doing for the past few hundred years.
Beautiful story, great read, thanks.
I’m glad this resonates so strongly with you. It makes me feel good to get such an enthusiastic response to this piece. Elephants are amazing creatures.
I prefer the revision for its storytelling quality, Brenda. This is an enjoyable read, full of imagery.
Thank you Pamela.
I like both of them Brenda, but really prefer the storytelling tone accentuated in the revision. It is there in the original, but much stronger in the revision. The rhythms are that of the storyteller heritage. Wonderful imagery throughout, and good thought provoking reality is emphsized by your entire approach. Really well done,
Thank you Elizabeth. I’m glad you like this story/poem. Your comments always deepen my understanding of my work. 🙂