“It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,/ the few real loves-of-your-life”

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(poetry diary 151) We took my child to NYC on the train a couple of years ago, and when we passed through Bridgeport we saw the elephants of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in a lot, getting ready to travel. My then three-year-old son didn’t realize how remarkable it was, (elephants in a parking lot? Of course!) but I looked out at them in excited awe.

I thought of that moment when hearing of the upcoming closing of the circus. After some searching I found “Washing the Elephant,” a poem about memories of one’s parents. It mentions the elephants, plus is heavy and gorgeous.

Washing the Elephant
Barbara Ras
Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash
the elephant, begging the body to do it
with soap and water, a ladder, hands,
in tree-shade big enough for the vast savannahs

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