‘The Elephant’
by Andy Jackson

There isn’t much room left for us…

There isn’t much room left for us.
When we need to eat or collect
the mail, we inch sideways
along the wall, two-dimensional.

Little grunts escape our mouths,
involuntary confessions. We keep
the windows open, even in winter;
watch television, leaning
at a chiropractically unwise angle.

With our many invented words,
we compose beautiful songs, hum them
to ourselves. This is how we prove
our differences don’t matter. Now
and then, one of us will wordlessly

shovel middens of shit into the yard,
untangle the hose, spray the room
clean of the smell of his sweat,
his ache to escape into wildness.
Push the heart down at one point

and it will thump back up at another.
I’m still thrown when you complain
at how grey our décor is, blame
myself for the holes in the wall.

I thought I heard sobbing last night,
sensed your hand stroking the globe
of his belly. It’s not a dream

when I wake to feel his hot breath,
his trunk hovering over my body. He
nudges my chest and head, reverently
lifts my arm, as if it were a tusk, lifeless.