Today's poem is by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aanabhrandhanmar Means 'Mad About Elephants'

Forget trying to pronounce it. What matters
is that in southern India, thousands are afflicted.
And who wouldn't be? Children play with them
in courtyards, slap their gray skin with cupfuls
of water, shoo flies with paper pompoms.
When the head of the household leaves

for business, his elephant weeps fat tears
of joy when he returns. Their baths of husk
and stone last four hours, every wrinkle
rubbed and patted with cinnamon oil.
At festival, silk caps and gold tassels drape
their broad heads. Brides still wear

rings of its stiff tail hair, part of their dowry
to avoid evil eye. A man with blue sandals
told me that elephants are cousins to the clouds—
that they belonged to Lord Indra, king
of the gods, that elephants were his carriage
in the wind—that they once had wings.

Copyright © 2005 Aimee Nezhukumatathil All rights reserved
from Miracle Fruit
Tupelo Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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