Touching an Elephant

At the theme park we are allowed to touch an elephant. He looms up

quietly, with a keeper, trunk down.

My palm feels his rough, impassive side.

From an expanse of gray, an eye,

lash fringed, liquid, mild, regards me.

I tell him he is beautiful. He does not blink.

A profound stillness of noncommunication,

of his private elephant thoughts, is edged

with the distant cries of peacocks and children.

I become aware, for all his mass,

he is my little brother. I do not stretch up,

lift his ear frond, whisper that to him.

He would not believe it. He curls his trunk,

thicker than my leg, to lip in a stalk of hay.

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