loxodonta africana

footbound and silenced
by your willful disregard
of my existence
i see your dis-ease.
in your world
cleansed of any voice
but your own
your body knows my speaking
feels it rumble through you
infrasonic
but your mind is deaf
to the language of the world
and you choose to assign me to the
unthinkable unthinking
speechless –
only comfortable to look on me contained
diminshing the I am
with a language of diminutives

“how cute, how sweet and beautiful – oh look it puts it trunk across its baby – like a mother and her child – like a human.”

if it is as you think
and only humans
are capable of love –
if we have to wait
for you alone to live love
then we are
all
you and me
so much closer
to extinction
than any of us
can bear to breathe through.

 

 

 

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15 thoughts on “loxodonta africana

  1. A potent message from the animal’s viewpoint. How right you are that people tend to anthropomorphize animals and belittle them in the process. Extinction is ever closer, what with the loss of the last male Northern White Rhino.. tragic.

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    1. Yes. Close to where I live on the forest edge of the foothills of the Outeniquas are the last unfenced elephants in the southern parts of Africa. A small group of Knysna elephants, living somewhere between myth and hope in the deep forests, are a remnant of the large herds that were hunted to near extinction by early European settlers. I like to think – even though I cannot hear them, that their voices are still here. That with awareness and attention the elephants might live.

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  2. I believe Earth is dying of a human species deaf to the song of all other nature but its own (and horribly at that). I truly fear we will learn that great song too late. Human intelligence is so backwards — we are the poorest creatures of all.

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    1. i do absolutely and truly hope we will not learn it too late. i think my poem might have been more pessimistic than i would have posted had i not been poem a daying in april. one of my favourite antidotes to pessimism is arundhati roy’s “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” let’s hope.

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  3. Oh, this poem went straight to my heart. I love elephants and am having a hard time with the human species as we lay waste all the animals and their habitats. We have not yet learned about love. Your information about the Knysna elephants is intriguing. I have heard of them and must read about them. How lovely that you live near them. I loved every word and line of this poem. Thank you for speaking for the elephants.

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    1. i think the tide is turning – the knysna elephants at least have the tiniest foothold. there are more elephants(still very few) in the forests now than they believed there were when they were declared functionally extinct in 1997.

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  4. second straight pen that i’ve commented: we’re a murderous lot.

    there’s an american musician named Adrian Belew, who has played with among others Bowie, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and King Crimson, who has a pair of songs that might rumble here: Elephant Talk, and Lone Rhinoceros.

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  5. What everyone else said! And I am struck by your first word, “footbound” – not in the same way that girls in feudal China experienced, but we see too many pictures of elephants tethered by their ankles with very little room to move. 😦

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  6. Probably humans are least humane of all the animals. It horrfies me that apart from our shackling animals for our use we still have those that because of their wealth think it is acceptable to kill for no reason at all what few wild animals there are left without any thought to the future. Excellent post.

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