Elephant Days

Kamala the city zoo’s senior
elephant lived with friend Jamuna
enjoying their walks, swimming in
their elephant pool, climbing up
through the bush to the ridge at
the back of the zoo sometimes
dragging pruned boughs back down.

Early one morning young Jamuna
pushed through unlatched gates
out a side gate to the busy main
road full of rush hour traffic.
Drivers rang the zoo who went
two keepers who guided her
back home to her great relief.
Her reunion conversation with
Kamala was full of excited squeaks
whistles and ear flapping.

Long years of Kamala’s early
life on concrete floors and
courtyard took their terrible toll
on her feet, their pain growing
stronger and longer. With her
eyes unfocused behind the pain
she was finally euthanased.

With Jamuna so bereft in her
grief the keepers in turn slept in
her back room, talking to her
when she stirred in the night.

Five long years later young Mali
arrived, chatty, exuberant, friendly,
Jamuna’s ears flapped, she
squeaked, whistled, trumpeted,
She was happy now, no longer alone.

Elephant Days