They must fear us the way we fear snakes—

poisonous and skulking in the brush,

a creature so low to the ground we think

we could trample it before it strikes.

& aren’t humans a history

recorded somewhere in elephant lore,

etched in the scrolls of their trunks

where eons are counted inward like tree lines

to a primitive, guttural warning?

Drought and lions are lesser gods.

They’re not as cruel.

It’s one thing to be hungry

and another to kill for profit.

Now, imagine the shape of a curse,

its heft and purity.

Route it into a socket

in the skull. Give it roots

of living tissue. Make it valuable,

accessible to the desperate.

Let it be

scrimshaw-worthy and perfect

for piano keys, buttons,

and billiard balls,

the carved handles of cutlery.

Piece it in among sleeping families—

great herds in tumbled clusters.

Let its ribs score the dust

in moon-sliver and flare,

a fine horn already bloodied with light.

Laura Sobbott Ross has worked as a teacher and a writing coach for Lake County Schools and was recently named as Lake County’s first poet laureate. Her poetry appears in many journals, including Blackbird, Florida Review, and 32 Poems. She was a finalist for the Art & Letters Poetry Prize and won the Southern Humanities Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. Her poetry chapbooks are A Tiny Hunger and My Mississippi. A third book, The Graffiti of Pompeii, was released in December.

Elephants
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