Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Sleep of Elephants

for Melanie Drane
On its side, half-covered in blanket, the elephant fills the bed, its slow breathing the surrender of lungs, a confession. The elephant is a form of twilight, its shadow skin, cobweb-coloured. The road, grey and endless, leading out from the fog-bound house, is an elephant also, if only in solidarity. World, the road says, your parking meters and slate roofs, your storm clouds and uncertainties, pencil leads and the rain. You have always been elephantine, winding through the half-lit maze, your baleful trumpeting and subaudible song. Mouse, you whale of the wainscot, bat, you whale of dusk, you are elephants seen through the multifaceted eyes of insects. All roads are elephants, all bathtubs, laundromats, and reference texts. What is plural is elephant. What is singular. A rural road, I fly alone in the night sky, itself a dark road with no border but the horizon and the rich elephantine earth, a constellation of shadows.

I find a pillow, half-buried beneath the vast foreleg of the elephant. I wash my hands, my face. I lie down beside the elephant which is dying. I do not hear, but feel the elephant’s murmuring, the worlds it speaks in consolation, time, a kind of twilight articulated in sound. I sleep beside its universe, its inhalations and outbreaths, a slow expansion and contraction of the rolling curves of its body. If there are stars, they have closed their eyes, they are past shining outward.

Elephant, old man, old woman, what is beyond old man and woman. Landscape, helium, dust; settlement, spacetime, nest. Let us be governed by twilight, or the twilight of twilight which is a shadow in the mirror.   Elephant, there are others, too, who will find you, who will bring you the consolation of sleep. The somnolent rest with you, march beside you into night. And when you turn, deep in your dream, our crushed bones will become, like a comet’s dust, a radiant trail of loss and return, an elephant.

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