Monday, May 10, 2010

Elephant cow

When I wrote this poem, I was thinking about the family of elephants - and this family is made up of the matriarch, aunties and a child. I visited South Africa in 2006 and saw this group of elephants in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. The elephants have been here far longer than we have been and I expect they'll be here long after us - and having an elephantine memory - well you can see where this is headed. Mahadevi means the great goddess and in India she is very much alive.

Cellist Jami Sieber has composed some beautiful electric cello pieces which she plays in the presence of Thai elephants (I don't know if Thai elephants are any different from Indian elephants.) You can see her video at

what Queenie says about Mahadevi

Mahadevi elephant mother smelt
another being in the world
she said to her friends
it’s time for us to walk the world
and so they set off with Mahadevi
in the lead they walked across
the African veld

they walked
across the seas to the hot lands
they spread out all across
the tundras in the north
crossed land bridges and
waterways an isthmus or two
snow capped mountains
some of the time they carried
thick fur on their backs which they
shed in the desert lands
eons went by as they walked
seven times around die Welt

and one day Mahadevi said
it’s here where we started
now I know the common smell
those small four-limbed creatures
whom we’ve passed in the latest
circumabulation the hairless ones
there is something about them
that worries me

and as she said this
a group of these small wiry creatures
came over the hill and stared
they formed a circle around
the calves protecting them and sent
out a low call to others that rumbled
seven times around the world

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