Hannah Stein, elephants

The great poet Hannah Stein has sent me a poem!

 

ZOO VIGIL

We dream jungle, we dream veld.  Where
elephants go to die:  bare ground
fenced between calligraphied giraffes
and the tender-eyed okapi.  An elephant

lies in state: a kind of earthen wake for
the living, who lumber in needful ritual,
knowledge flickering in their silent feet,
their arcane, undomesticated bones.
They grieve in a dusty oval,
touch their comrade again and again,

to make sure he is dead, to lay
their peace upon him, gather his peace
unto themselves.  Hour upon hour
they circle him and touch him,
the friable ground wreathing up all

that can shade eternity back to them,
whatever more than dust
may spread safekeeping.
—Hannah Stein

 

(First published in And We The Creatures, C.J. Sage, editor)

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