​Architecture for Elephants

​                           What I imagine is a monsoon, 
tree limbs as rafters, green leaves as shingles,

                           a herd of elephants gathered below
while the weather whips and tosses the world.

                            But I don’t live where behemoths roam,
crash through the house when I’m trying to sleep.

                           All I know of pachyderm behavior
comes from zoo enclosures and nature shows,

                           how they rub their hide against
whatever will take their weight, how they express

                           joy in pools of water, how they nuzzle
their young with those expressive trunks. In some parts

                            of the world, people build abstract
structures to share space with tuskers, to watch them

                           from mammoth observation platforms.
Ancient Romans carved these colossal creatures in relief

                           on marble panels—stone wrinkles,
stone eyes, stone blankets draped over

                           stone backs. I don’t want to mention
poachers, destruction of habitat, and all the atrocities

                           that come naturally to others
of my kind. Kind, meaning likeness,

                           not tenderness or beneficence.
For that, you need to witness an elephant caress 

                            the bones of loved ones long-dead
under the shelter of trees, trees reaching up into the rain.

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David B. Prather
David B. Prather is the author of the poetry collection, We Were Birds. His work has appeared in several print and online journals, including Prairie SchoonerColorado Review, Sheila-Na-GigSeneca ReviewThe Literary Review, and many others. He studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York, and he studied writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. You'll find him on Twitter @PratherRe

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