Today's poem is by Cathryn Essinger

A Desk in the Elephant House

Sometimes something huge sits down
          beside you, and it is so large, so
familiar, that even though you feel
          its breath upon your cheek,
you are unaware of its presence.

I have lived so long with the elephants
          that I can no longer tell you
when they come and when they go . . . .
          Their huge bodies fill the room
and yet they move so quietly, are so

light on their wonderful feet
          that they may as well be ghosts.
When I put my face against their flanks,
          I am no more aware of them
than the lover who turns in his sleep.

At this desk I keep the trivia of memory,
          how much grain eaten, how many pounds
gained and lost. But memory is no more
          selective than the light that falls
in broken slats across the floor,

or the dust that lingers in the halls.
          How to define their absence, except
as a sadness that they leave in their wake?
          They are the stillness in an empty room,
the touch too familiar to be known.

Copyright © 2004 Cathryn Essinger All rights reserved
from A Desk in the Elephant House
Texas Tech University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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