Picture on a Bangkok Elephant
by Nancy Schleifer

You sit on an elephant, for all time,
on the wall of Martin's office, Daddy,
sharing space with more domestic photos.
In regal Bangkok splendor, in an open
shirt, you, on a tough-skinned wrinkled
obese wise-smiling Asian animal.

Your office looked like central storage
for National Geographic. Elephants,
whales, piranhas, blue boobies, and
restless natives wearing and sitting
on palms. You worked--we work--to see
not what we see, but something more.

Hot Thai peppers; Bolivian Macaws;
frigate birds on frozen melted rocks;
curries of lamb; poisoned darts;
humpbacks breaking the waterslide ridge;
banana leaves used for sixteen purposes;
lizards spitting; glaciers crackling.

You, slipping below the surface of the bay,
fingering the pods of sea flowers,
your feet planted firmly upon
a thousand, thousand years of silt.
And you, on the other side of the earth,
sitting astride an elephant in Martin's office.

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