Elephants

The little creatures
hare, mouse, beetle, man,
who leap and burrow
and exhaust their urgent hearts
in a handful of clutched seasons,

never take much notice
of these great beasts from another planet,
a former earth,
who set geological time
with their slow, creaking strides.

Long ago, it seems,
the trees, the dark rocks,
the cliffs of a gargantuan epoch
rose up, left the cramped soil,

became stones possessed by wanderlust,
and pulverized Jurassic forests
into scorched savannahs
beneath legendary journeys.

And still, miraculously, they migrate,
as if those petty, biting forces
that gnaw like sand at the stubborn bergs,
the fierce birds of prey, the schemes of men,

and reduce them to grovelling stone,
could not assault these bastions
of unhinged, colossal nature.

Herds of lumbering strata,
trunks that boom the
deep hoopla of madcap life,
dust storms kicked up by stampedes

that blind red Saharas
and spawn unharnessed hurricanes
for blighted Zanzibars.
What can you teach me of myself,
behemoths of the granite prairies?

To be something completely one
with its own grey blood?
To possess myself and my herd
in the deep wrinkles of my hide,
where I count and shelter each member?

To be mighty,
that things may tremble at my approach,
may heed me,
yet dangerous in what is essential,
never capable of cracking the earth
beyond regeneration.

You, great beasts,
stubbornly stride into centuries
that have no more use of you,
and how much we need

your vast and thirsty savannahs,
your strange, untethered soul
that never knew the harness of Pharaoh,
perhaps we are only now just learning.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014

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