Elephant

I’m beginning to think
that I should talk to
my mother about that
darn elephant on the
front porch. she’s
been lumbering about
the orchard for years
now, but recently
she’s taken residence
by the rusting swing
and will not leave.
I’m worried she may
stick her trunk through
a window and scare
my mother while she
unloads the laundry.
I say scare because
I’m not sure if my
mother even knows
she is there, that elephant.

for a long time, I only
felt the giant hole, the
emptiness, where she
was hiding. every now
and again I caught a
glimpse of her ears,
flapping shut over
secrets, fears, all my
questions. then one day
I saw the elephant peeking
from behind the only
remaining apple tree
pink ribbons on her head.

she is my missing child
hood, the space between
an afternoon at the public
library and the day I
left for college. at first
the elephant was mute,
her mouth opened but
I heard nothing. lately
I begin to hear a low roar.

and she asks why why
do I not remember hugs?
did you not brush my hair?
did you not teach me
about makeup and boys?
did you not talk to me
about sex and my period
and love and how you
met my father and if
your mother-in-law drove
you crazy and if your
mother criticized your
cooking? did you play
catch with your brothers
or did you always fight?
when did you find out
one brother was gay and
the other taking drugs?

I know all about my
father, who can tell a
story, talk to anyone.
but you, mom, I don’t
know anything about you.
I worry that you don’t
know anything about me.
so, yes, let’s talk about
that fucking elephant
on the porch before
we both die.

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