Spotted at the edge of a clearing, the doe
freezes and in that moment of hesitation,
carelessly exposes a brown flank
with all the insouciance of a woman undressing.
She lifts a delicate hoof and then
reurns it to the snow with all the grace
of someone who was born to run. Once, long ago,
I watched and elephant near Madison Square Garden
being coaxed up onto a ramp. He carefully
placed his giant foot down, then stepped slowly back,
remembering, perhaps, a former collapse.
The elephant knows his great weight in the world,
how the earth opens up, sometimes without warning.
So much of our lives, we spend paralyzed
by indecision, or excessive ambition.
On good days, we go forward...
And sometimes, that elephant's look comes back,
that great moving mountain of animal sorrows
in moonlight in Manhattan. And that memory of that
midnight scene, that exquisite moment of
an elephant remembering.
June Beisch Reading