Tuesday Poem – Six Ways of Looking at an Elephant – Carol Don Ercolano


She said there was an elephant in the room

and there it was, posing as a bookcase

its grey ridged skin like weathered wood

its dusty lines waiting to be read


See how the tall yellow corn

grows as high as an elephant’s eye

the sun ripening its seed

the wind fondling its ears


Sometimes I wish to be an elephant

they say it never forgets

and for a woman of eighty-one

that would be a useful attribute


The eye of an elephant is tiny

but compelling

It lies like a small lake in volcanic terrain

Within its depths you can see

all the sorrows of the world


Wrinkle is synonymous with elephant

like the wide smile of crocodile

the long neck of giraffe

the sharp spine of porcupine –

a part of what it is


Your tears and mine

and elephant tears

rise in rivulets of salt

from the same deep well of emotion

I know some of the things that inspired this poem because I was there as was Carol, pictured on the right, when the Boulder Writers poets were talking about poetic inspiration. I looked up and saw a picture of a moving herd of elephants. And somehow after that the conversation got onto Wallace Stevens and his very famous poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird which is always inspiring in that he has taken what might be considered a common everyday topic – and as blackbirds fly, let his own mind and words take wing.  Carol noted that her above poem was ‘after Wallace Stevens.’ Maybe but only in the sense that she has taken several old adages about elephants… and turned them, as Stevens did the blackbirds, into a group of ideas completely different but then again so similar to that great grey mammal. ‘An elephant in the room’ for example becomes a bookcase with ‘dusty lines waiting to be read’ Maybe it’s the warm blood of the elephant itself that has led to some deeply personal and moving moments in this poem.

Carol is a well known figure in the Nelson poetry world. See more here. She has also just published her first children’s book, inspired by her first grandchild Arabella. Called Arabella and the Bubble it is a fun read and especially for those young ones who are discovering the many possibilities of bubbles. It is available to buy on the Wheelers site here. Thank you for being my guest today Carol.

If you want to read Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, go here.

This site had some interesting comments on Thirteen Ways of Looking a a Blackbird.