A poem by Elizabeth Keyser

 

Asleep before the screen I woke to see     

men black and white, African and American,

working to save an orphaned elephant   

ivory poachers left to die.          

Wrapping her tenderly in blankets,

they loaded her in a truck, took her     

to a nearby village, tried to feed her        

from a bottle, failed, then rubbed her mouth    

with milk until, at last, lips parted   

and she swallowed.

Men kept a vigil through the night,

bedding beside her in the straw,

soothing her when she woke,

caressing her trunk, crooning    

a native lullaby.  And they celebrated        

that she survived ‘til morning.                   

Days later, frisky as a colt (although as large 

as a grown horse that could have carried them),

she gamboled by their side, bucking and kicking,

huge ears flapping, trunk swinging, flinging   

herself about, but docile and friendly

as a dog with her new family.

The men, though, knew she must rejoin the herd,

which met them like some wary fellow tribe,

swaying their trunks from side to side,

curling them above their heads, or   

extending them in greeting, a mild expression   

in their yellow, long-lashed eyes.

One male with curving tusks held back,

but others brushed the baby with their trunks.

One snorted, stamped, and then men moved    

as if to intervene, until their leader cried,

“Let it happen!” “Let it happen!”

And, at last, it did—the herd,

embracing its new member, moved away.

I felt instead of waking I had dreamt

            a hopeful dream.

Oh, let it happen, let it happen here.

 

 

Elizabeth Keyser has taught English at Willamette U.  She is a member of the Silverton Poetry Association.  At the urging of friends Elizabeth has started writing poetry.