American Elephant

My brothers and I on the sunny side, in the road,

damping stubs, stamping out matches, more

frightened of mice than of men.  My brothers

leave me the cleaning.  They're tall and don't offer.

"How could we?" they'd ask.  "We're tall, but

you're older."  Which may be why we never left.

We live within miles of the hospital and mother

we were born in and out of.  We don't go back

here many generations.  The ties that bind us are

recent.  Take these wandering chestnuts, distantly

related through Morganetta, a cousin from the

Congo, first of her kind to kick the amniotic

cocktail and give up licking salt in all night caves

of Kitum.  She founded a colony in Western

New England—woke one morning ankle chained

to a concrete slab.  We dream meek dreams but

we're better off than she is, better than these

poached and luckless wonders.  We might've

helped one another.  Like Masons.  Like the Mafia.

"Sure, you're only two years older," the middle

one says, "but you're not much shorter."  He has

two daughters, and custody.  The other, being

taller, drags ribs to the yard to file by weight,

or maybe volume, we don't ask, we only continue,

slow with the task of removal, our cheeks full

of secrets, and our trunks' firm grasp on remains.  

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