• angietonucci

Elephant Ears

incredible plants, Technicolor, Emerald City green, impossible leaves, Jurassic, from before everything got so much smaller, shelter for ground mammals and garden gnomes and fairies, I watch through trickles on windowpanes, a mouse darts out from under, braving the drizzle, which to her must be torrents, for the half-drowned worm in search of higher ground, then, with her wriggling meal, she returns, the canopy creates a dry space, a secret place for feasting, the rain tap tap taps a lullaby, this day is meant for reading and eating something warm and sweet deep-fried cinnamon smells cinnamon thoughts, the first yeasty bite, dopamine explosion, endorphins compete with sugar for space in the bloodstream, eyes roll backward, lids fall just almost closed, a shudder, a not totally unsexual sound, cinnamon lips after and, oh I can see the carnival games, feel the thick summer air, hear the bluegrass band play in the square at the state fair, and I remember school trips to the zoo where they served the confections in the African village because it makes the most sense to eat them in view of their namesakes the gray giants, their own ears like sails, like wings, for flying across golden oceans, and it seems they are probably soft like suede, like velvet and, oh to walk beside them in the wild, the lords of the savannah, to watch the children chase the birds, to laugh at the noses they haven’t quite gotten used to yet, the floppy ears, twice the width of their round bodies, a calf trips and takes a tumble, but mother is only steps away, she coos and soothes, she kisses boo-boos as the little prince steps on an ear and falls again, baby mine, don’t you cry, baby mine, you’ll grow into them and he might, but she won’t see, the queen, the matriarch, who has lived long enough to birth five others, she has lived long enough to grow enviable incisors, titanic tusks, the pride of the herd, they match her roar in strength, in might, in venerable royalty, she earned that crack in the left one like she earned those scars on her shoulder, like she earned the bullet encased in her ample rump the last time they came, but she was younger then, and guns are bigger now, and desperation breeds savagery two sisters are down before they know what’s happening, and the babies are screaming, the air smells of blood and panic, and she tries, this queen mother, to gather the young ones behind her, to face her foes, to charge them like before, but she doesn’t see them, they are too far, the cowards, hiding behind rocks, so she trumpets retreat, and her family scatters, the other mothers and the aunts herding the calves before them, but she stays, her majesty, roaring her anger, stomping her loathing into the dirt until she feels something brush against a leg, her youngest child too scared to leave her side, he cries and she reaches down instinctively to comfort him, she turns to shield him, she takes fire, twice in her side, so he is safe, a third bullet hits a kneecap and she falls, the baby screams as the ground shakes, a final shot passes through an ear, finds her neck, the calf runs circles around her until she calls him close, the familiar rumble draws him in, she raises her trunk, lifts a bloody ear as the African wind carries her final heartbeats to her ancestors, and the little prince nuzzles underneath, his own ears flat against his shoulders, he cries, but mother is there, baby mine, dry your eyes, baby mine, you’ll be just fine, except she can’t know ​ if that’s true, and so I cry too, fat elephant tears, lament the broken kindred, mourn the great loss the world has suffered because I do know that somewhere it has happened, is happening, will continue to happen, and I used to wonder why I am so affected, why I feel everything around me for thousands of miles, why I can’t just write about plants or pastries without drawing tragic parallels, why my own ears throb with the sounds of their cries, why their pain becomes my pain and why it stirs within me such passion, such outrage, such revulsion for humankind, but now I wonder why there are so few of us who use our ears for listening


Copyright ©2017 by Angie Tonucci. All rights reserved.

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