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Nuwe skryfwerk | New writing > Poësie | Poetry > English > Published poets

The elephant is unhappy

Arja Salafranca - 2011-06-22

Untitled Document The elephant is unhappy

The ground is squelchy underfoot.
The elephant is unhappy.
The grass sparse, wet.
A dog is chained to a table.
“I am on guard,” is the sign
around a caravan.
At the next caravan, a woman
holding a cigarette retreats
to its shuttered interior.
The chained dog finds shelter
beneath the camping table,
its tail between its legs.

In the field by the main road
the elephants have attracted onlookers.
A mother holds her child.
The elephants are still, silent.
An elephant blows dust on to herself,
burrowing a hole into the ground
as she sucks up dust, blows it,
uses her trunk to enlarge a hole at her feet.

Her hide is wrinkled grey.
Beyond her cars stream along the wide,
sun-bleached road.
She is tethered by her? foot,
held by a stake in the ground.
Men sort hay and grass.
The elephant moves, her ears flap,
her trunk grasps into the air,
she sways, the chain stretches; just
before she reaches the end of the chain’s pull,
she stops, sways, knows she can’t go any further.
Her trunk reaches out again.
Her big body sways slightly,
a foot moves forward. The elephant is unhappy.

Silently, we walk away. The ground is
squelchy underfoot, and the caravans
are inscrutable: you can’t see through
their small lace-covered windows.