Friday, August 10, 2012


I rode an elephant in Thailand
the summer I finally set out-
umbilical straight–jacket by then
nearly fused with my own anatomy

I didn’t ride barebacked
Still, l should have enquired
about the Elephant’s consent-

Instead I mounted him as if
it was my right- I had after all
paid to see the view from the top

Up close, random stray hairs
emerging from wrinkled grey skin,
bore an uncanny resemblance
to my 90-year-old grandmother

Days before my departure, my fingers
read the sagging softness beneath her arms
like a blind traveler studying a map.
Oblivious to the landmines in her heart,
I asked why she remained single- it had been four
decades, since my grandfather’s death-

…Men were bosses in Poland’s factories…
…fathers pleading unsuccessfully, for time off
work, for 9-year-old daughters on Kol Nidre…-
…Young husbands incapacitated by illness…

“Why would I want another man
to take care of?” she murmured.

I sat in the box seat, strapped
around the elephant’s back,
like the great Napoleon
on the eve of battle…

Surveying the promise
of freedom’s illusion

Lori Polachek

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