Elephant giving birth
I click on the video called elephant giving
This search and click, search and click
a thing we do now, he and I,
to make the time
And there she is. As promised. Pacing. Her
a wide and soundless yawp. Opening and closing.
She shifts her weight from side to side,
for what will happen.
Other animals do not feel pain the way we do,
my husband says. As though he knows. And
says something in a baritone voice about
standing back, allowing.
The music is tribal. Pounding drums.
We are zoomed in now. Balloon-like casing
from her. What is that?, my husband asks.
The sac, I say.
And I am back on the floor of our bathroom.
10 weeks along, though the heart stopped at 6.
12 hours in and my body is dropping clots
the size of my fists. My doctor’s words, you
have to pass
the sac, my refrain. And my question back:
what will it look like? I mouth moans, not
to make this known. Not wanting this to be out
My husband asleep in the next room.
The baby elephant drops with a gush of blood
like a river upended.
The mother turns to see. It is not moving. So
she begins to kick it. She kicks and kicks and
turns away and turns back and kicks.
She will kick the life into it.
And I’m stuck now in this narrative. Praying
for the impossible. 2:59 remaining. Kick,
I roar. Keep kicking.
The camera zooms in on the newly born. No
In a final effort, she wraps her trunk around
the newborn. She
is gentle now, coaxing out the breath with
And as if it has always done, all along,
the baby elephant
opens its mouth. And closes it. Opens. And
exaggerating what living looks like.
I watch the mother watch her newborn.
Muscles slackening, focus fixed,
reckless kicking of moments ago not even
I’m telling you, it ended this way.
This poem originally appeared in Sara’s book Mis–, published by Grandma Moses Press (2014). Reprinted with permission.
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