Sunday, May 1, 2022

When Elephants Weep*

Elephants cry real tears when they are sad,
remembering the savannah
where they lived when they were young,
the herd they were taken from.
Do they weep as they
ponder the cement enclosure
they now endure,
not a blade of grass to be found?

35 years at the end of a chain,
Kavaan lived. When she was finally freed,
tears coursed down her cheeks:
relief, gratitude, perhaps sorrow
for those lost years? 

In Africa, when their protector's heart stopped,
20 elephants he had rescued walked
for twelve hours, to stand
for two days and two nights
outside his compound.
They came back every year
on the day of his death
to pay their respects.

We all know that elephants grieve.
They gather at the bones of the fallen,
lifting the bones, caressing them,
remembering their dead. 

Do they weep
as they are being killed for their tusks,
as their babies are taken away?
Do they wonder how human hearts
can behave as we do,
such a warring species?

All I know is,
I want to wipe away their tears,
with a wish they never cry again.
All I know is,
when elephants weep,
it breaks my heart.

for the Sunday Muse and shared with earthweal's open link

The title of my poem is taken from the title of the book by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy. Kavaan was freed by Cher from captivity in Pakistan. The elephant whisperer who created a huge sanctuary for elephants was Lawrence Anthony. He died away from home but when his heart stopped, somehow the elephants knew, and started walking towards his home to pay their respects. There is so much we don't understand - but we get these glimpses that something much bigger than what we comprehend is going on.


  1. Oh you!!! Know how to bring tears to my eyes, pain to my heart. Such gorgeous writing, Sherry.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful poem! and all the info as well. Warring cruel species we are indeed.

  3. This is magnificent in every way my friend!! The poem, the elephants, their tears, and the history shared. I love this poignant poem and post Sherry!

  4. We have so, so much to learn. I do hope we have time. What sweeping, slow, ponderous grandeur here.

  5. I think they do weep as I am reading your heartfelt poem.

  6. Really sad, Sherry.
    But all true.

  7. Oh gosh! This made me cry. You have touched a living reality we see in India. It breaks my heart when I see these vulnerable giants are chained in enclosures. May better sense prevails and humans understand that this world belongs to every living being and freedom is a right.

  8. Sherry, impossible to read your poem and background without feeling massively sad and angry, but also hugely humble.

  9. Wow, Sherry - the sadness in this gorgeous poem is actually hard to take!

    David [ben Alexander]

  10. petty men are the ruin of this world ~

  11. Oh Sherry, this brought tears to my eyes.


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