A Twist in the Tale: What Elephants Can’t Remember


By Jenny Kalahar

Elephants are famous for their ability to remember old friends after long years apart, or feeding grounds not seen for decades. But did elephants also once know ancient secrets and mysteries of the universe, too? Were their stories passed on at dusk from elder elephants to calves? I am convinced that with each untimely loss of these great, intelligent and emotional beings, another bit of lore, legend, and insight dies, too.

What Elephants Can’t Remember

Noble giants gray and thundering
Or quiet, lying gently still in groups
Or running, trunks swaying to their own heart rhythms
Tusks white, curving toward the orange sun
The elephants

Elephants stand for hours, or march for days
Remembering well the greenest feeding grounds
They remember sons and sisters even long departed
The places they’ve last kissed their dead.
They communicate low or high or silently
A trumpet or a soulful glance

Ground shaking with their stomp or dance
The elephants

Elephants grow old together, stay connected
They remember the sweetest tastes of life
Blowing water showers over playful friends
Babies hiding behind a mother’s legs
And wandering slowly against the setting sun
Casting long, significant shadows once again
But elephants

Elephants cannot remember these few things:
They can’t recall the reason why
Cool rain will fall or not at all
They used to know why rivers dried
Why grasses browned
Why darkness fell when they grew tired
They used to know these things and more
The elephants

Elephants once passed these stories as they rested
Told them when each day had dimmed
Before sleep came while a glowing moon caressed.
But life grew harsh and hard and dangerous
With sounds and signs and sights of man
Their few necessities grew scant
And the elephants …
The elephants forgot


Jenny Kalahar, her husband Patrick, and their pets live in Indiana where she sells used and rare books and writes novels and poetry. She is the author of a fantasy novel about teens stuck with the worst-ever magical power, This Peculiar Magic. Her two novels about fostering cats are Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, and The Find of a Lifetime. Her collection of nostalgic and humorous poetry is One Mile North of Normal and Other Poems. For more, visit her blog, Bookselling and Writing with Weegee

More from Jenny:

The Butterfly Waltz

If My Cat Were a Little More Dog



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