There is a small collection of elephants in my drawing-room. It started with a minuscule silver elephant, no bigger than a thumbnail, my mother gave me eons ago and it grew from there.
“Make the sure the elephant has its trunk facing upwards, for good luck” she would always say so I always avoided down pointing trunks. I am fond of my elephants for no other reason than, in real life, they are cheerful animals, slow, patient and with a long memory – all qualities I do not possess, zipping through life as possessed.
Recently I came across a poem by Barbara Ras called “Washing the Elephant” that caught my attention. I have always liked reading poetry, even the convoluted one full of references that fly over my head. I love how, unlike prose, poems require multiple readings to capture nuances, meanings and story lines. I tend to cut them out and post them around the house so I can read them at unexpected times – the stove vent is a good place, for instance, especially when I am cooking something that needs constant stirring.
Oftentimes I share them with family and friends who, mostly, think I am mad – who has time for poetry these days?
This particular one touched me in the way the writer looks back and amasses half a century in five stanzas. Barbara Ras is a contemporary American poet with a number of published collections. I hope you like it as much as I did.
In order not to infringe copyright, I refer you to the New Yorker link where you will find the poem.