Elephant

by Holly Appling

I am in love with a magician — 
He comes home near midnight 
& relaxes, undoes his slanted 

Tuxedo shirt buttons, his body
Is always here & gone, the
Voice hangs in corners like bats —

Have I been gone long? He asks.
I never answer, only look back
& smile. Then he begins his act —

His white gloved hands each 
Seem to hold a thing very close — 
An alley fire gives enough light,

The homeless crowd in to look — 
He says, this hand or that?
Quick darling, which do you pick?

That or this or that, you prick —
It’s a showy trick, only hypnosis
To get me to sleep, I sigh.

I am too electric & sick to sleep. 
I grip the dream’s razor edge —
I am an egg with a wing-tip sticking out.

If I crack, this is what happens — 
The moonlight understands, 
Its beams illuminate the good 

& terrible moments like the time 
I danced the tango with a tulip —
Its calyx bit my shifting stamens,

Moonbeams fell everywhere
Through xylem & water, pale
Leaves turned translucent —

I asked for a kiss among halos. 
The vertigo shocked my body, 
My legs, my hips & neck, my lips —

The tango spun like a carousel 
At top speed. The nausea awful — 
Though I did not lie back, I ran, 

I conquered, my sword swung 
Light as a feather, against each
Dagger, I battled, I battled —

I trusted no one, not even 
The black & white swan pawns
Floating in the castle moat.

The end is love-sick & filthy,
I must warn you, it happened
When I found my steel 

Stiletto boot heel thrust
Into another soldier’s shoulder
Half-stuck in the muck &

My sudden switch-blade was 
Angled at his pulsating jugular — 
I barely heard his words,

I shouted, speak up! Speak, kid —
Just to ease the tension a bit,
A cherub pops into thought’s

Anniversary cake, wanting 
To be anywhere else but here — 
Just like me…

So no more shadows or tricks —
I will live as I want to be loved.
I will leave for the lands

I have always wanted to travel —
In a glitter a caravan passes.
I sprint & catch a gypsy’s hand.

The wagon lurches ahead again, 
A jade elephant at its lead — 
His muscles ripple in thunder.

I am awe-struck, I am sure my fingertip
Can touch his pure white tusk —
The jungle river propels its myth

Further & further as we journey 
To the horizon, the last ring in green 
Across a galloping into dreams —


Holly R. Appling lives in Canada.  Her poems have appeared in QWERTY, Carousel, The Writer’s Spot, Leaf Press and an obscure south Indian publication.


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