Elephants

In Craft, Featured, Poetry by

A selection from our “Earth” call for submissions.
By Alwyn Moss

Illustration by Justin Lau.

Ponderous and slow, carrying their size before them
like enormous blue grey waves, legs thick as tree trunks
straight as temple pillars.

How shall we celebrate the earth without them?

I’ve never seen the elephants dance
that heavy and benign dance ancient
as African jungles or Asian forest,
drumming their weight against the ground, stomping
with careful and deliberate step, in touch
with rhythms far below.

Nor have I heard their awesome call
coming across rivers, savannahs,
or been witness to their acts of love or anger.
And I’ve only read of elephant wisdom and mysteries
that made them sacred to those who knew them.
Yet I believe all this is true.

How shall we celebrate the earth without them?

Fallen by thousands now they lie like long abandoned ruins;
crumpled bodies, faces ripped open, their lawful ivory treasures seized
out of their flesh flesh for trophies, gadgets,
a testimony to littleness of mind and heart, destroying greatness
like Lilliputians binding Gulliver.

How shall we celebrate the earth without them?


Alwyn Moss has certainly made her mark on Blacksburg in the 30+ years she has lived here: she has taught art, creative writing, and kindergarten, worked to preserve Heritage Park, and published over fifty commentaries in the Roanoke Times. A longtime environmental activist, she is currently an active resident of Warm Hearth Village, serving on the community’s Green Committee and helping to “keep the once 220 acres as natural as possible.” Moss is inspired to write when walking through nature by herself, “looking and really seeing what is there in a new and unexpected way,” and when she is “deeply moved” by a “tragic reality,” as with her poem, “Elephants.” She recommends the nature poet Mary Oliver to readers of The Pylon, as well as Edna St. Vincent Millet, a 19th-century poet who Moss suggests could be “an unusual experience for students who may never have heard of her.”

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