An elephant never forgets, so,
in this cement cage in the zoo
for long years I remember:
the tall grasses and delicious leaves
of the savannah; plunging into
the river, the joy of spraying
water over myself with my trunk.
I remember dust baths, and
the trumpeting call of the herd
when it was time to move on.
I remember freedom and joy,
holding the tail of my mother,
when I was small, her tender trunk
reaching back to guide me;
the whole herd forming
a circle of protection
around me when danger
my mother's shrieks of pain
as the Two-Leggeds gunned her down,
ripping off her tusks
before she was even dead.
I remember my trauma,
my grief and shock at being in the world
without her. And then it got worse:
bad people herding me into a truck,
taking me a long way away
from my kin. I remember the big ship,
pitching and tossing. I never knew
the world could be this cruel.
I was one year old. A baby,
who only had one year
An elephant never forgets, so
I remember the kindness of
one of my caretakers; the cruelty of
another; the poking sticks,
the lashing whip. Fear, always fear,
vigilance at each approaching stranger:
does it have a soul, or is it
one of the Others,
the ones with dead eyes
and no hearts?
Thirty-five long years have gone by in this sad
little cavern. They call me the loneliest
elephant on earth but I know there are others.
Across the sea, I can feel the herd yearning
for me as I long for them, pining for the
wide yellow grasslands of my youth,
for my mother and aunts,
for those days when I ran and played
with the other calves.
Now They are coming; again, a crate,
once more I am taken to an unknown place.
But wait! Here there are others of my kind.
For the first time in years, my trunk
touches another's with relief and joy.
Perhaps here, my heart will begin to heal.
I beg them with my eyes: please,
oh, please, let me stay.
I used poetic license to describe the background of my elephant. I don't know Kavaan's history when he was a yearling. He is 36, and has been in a zoo in Pakistan for 35 years, so there was likely trauma. He now is in a sanctuary in Cambodia, part of a herd again at last, though elephants usually stay, if not interfered with, in their matrilineal families.
I am certain that elephants, along with the other wild creatures, know exactly how dangerous humans are. The wild ones already feel the effects of the climate crisis most keenly. The only beings who prefer the comfort of denial are we humans, even though the crisis is accelerating at a terrifying rate.
for my prompt at earthweal where we are considering When Animals Speak, writing in the voice of a non-human being, about how they are impacted by humankind and/or the climate crisis.