Rachel Bush


Have you ever owned an elephant?
You ask this as a joke of course but
still I think of Jumbo who was blue
and stuffed and felt and mine when I was
four in Timaru.


I never owned Arthur Mee’s Children’s
Encyclopedia those twelve volumes
with blue binding, gold lettering and
their own oak bookcase with two
shelves. One photo showed an elephant
that stood with head bowed on a sheet of
glass that bent under its great weight.
This photograph was included to
illustrate the properties of glass
not the weight of elephants.


When Miss Mullin the missionary
left India her pupils gave her flowers
and poems they had composed. One began
Oh Mullin, thy gait is as the gait
of the elephant. Its enormous
and delicate precision. How much
I like that simile that was made
in India in the 1940s.


People would say as if they were wise,
An elephant never forgets, but
who ever knew whatever moves
through the unspeakable memory
of elephants?

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