chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: elephant

found poem: This

found poem: I liked

found…

trying to write…10

It was early when she sat down to open the electronic box, the sky dark. Laundry sloshing, heater struggling to warm the house, newspaper not yet delivered, she set her fingers on the keys…

The elephant was there, immediate, large, insistent. She felt him beneath her hands where they rested near the knobbed line of his spine. His skin was leathery, dry, his back traced with a web of wrinkles and wiry hairs. Feeling small and awed, she stretched her arms to embrace his massive back and leaned forward to set her cheek against his skin. She felt the slow rise and fall of his breath beneath her.

He had never been this close…

trying to write…8

elephant legs
The elephant pauses, standing in the shadow of a single leaf. He holds his breath, invisible, trunk curled round the tail of the elephant in front of him. He is still; they are all still.

She tromps through the leaf litter on the forest trail. The tree bark is gray and crinkled, like elephant hide. Now that she knows what she’s looking for, she thinks, everything reminds her of elephants. A distant sound makes her stop. It’s an elephant trumpeting. Excited, she runs toward it, dodging the gray trees. She runs into a clearing, listening again for the distant elephant. Back among the trees, the silent elephants release their breath and silently turn their eyes to follow her progress. They try not to laugh.

The elephant waits. Gray in the gray light, disguised as a tree or a thunderhead, a concrete wall or a desert floor, a rippled beach. Watches to see if she’ll realize he’s there. She listens only to the nattering inside voices, doesn’t hear his breathing, see the deep impressions of his footsteps, smell his musk…
– – –
elephant photo by thank Dog. photography

      ~ trying to write…9

trying to write…7

She wiggles around in her chair, looking for the comfort spot, waiting for the tap to flush forward its first rusty dribble of words. Then letting it run, hoping it will clear. Hoping that it’s not just words, but, squeezing from within the narrow pipe, an elephant. Even a baby elephant.

      ~ trying to write…8

trying to write…6

But how, she wonders, do you make an elephant?

The best way is to start with a pair of elephants. But if you don’t have a pair of elephants, or even one, you might have to make an elephant costume for your favorite chair, or your dog, or even yourself. Or you could trumpet pachydramatically and hope that one passing will hear. You could leave a tempting trail of peanuts and hay and tender branches from African trees. You could try praying.

But no, she realized, the only way is to be an elephant surrogate—to offer yourself to the muse, to plant the seed, to struggle through an unwieldy pregnancy and to split yourself open, elephant mother to a wrinkled newborn.

She twitched and crossed her legs and rubbed the soft round bulge of her belly. She pictured herself lumbering across the room behind a gigantic middle. Her womb ached. She was afraid. Not of the elephant, not of the pain or the awkwardness. She was afraid that after all of it she’d birth a hyena. Or worse, a fairy princess.

Okay muse, she mused, I’m here. I’m afraid, but I’m ready. Let’s make an elephant.

      ~ trying to write…7

trying to write…5

A trail of little yellow sticky notes leads toward the desk, each one blank, an invitation to a word. Pens and pencils are dropped alongside the trail, crumbs.

But, she thinks, the problem here is not words; it’s ideas. It’s true of course. The words are already here. But I’ve been acting as if I merely had lure them, give them a little exercise, then pile and quilt and stitch and stir them, and by some alchemy, they would reveal their substance. “I’ve mistaken hamsters for elephants,” she thinks.

The hamsters crowd around her ankles, worrying their whiskers over the little yellow slips of paper, testing the wooden pencils with their teeth. They’re distracting, cute. This has always been the problem, she muses. Mistaking form for content. Making pretty things. Ouch.

But how, she wonders, do you make an elephant?

      ~ trying to write…6

trying to write…2

Waiting again for the circus train, the lumbering trucks, the shuffling clowns, the cage carts with their pacing tigers, and, of course, the elephants. Steps muffled by the snow, they will leave deep shadowed wells as they lift and plant each foot in the unmarked whiteness. I clear the yard for their striped tent, string the guy wires, assemble the ranks of bleachers and sweep the mud from beneath the raised tent flap. But it isn’t tricks I want. No standing on massive haunches, no balancing ballerinas on curled trunks, no rolling of logs or tossing of dogs. Just one gracious gray elephant to stand, solid and true, in the quiet heart of the morning. One real thing. One idea.

      ~ trying to write…3

trying to write…1

Words chop onto the page, graceless, chilly, distracted.

Start over. Begin something else. Begin. Shake the blanked mind for the kernels that didn’t pop. Spill something else onto the page: a situation, a character, a word, an elephant. Leave it there. Go on. Work it. I walk to the door, put my hand on the knob, turn it, then let go, turn away. Go through the door. Go through the door.

     ~ trying to write…2

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