What We Talk About When We Talk About Elephants

skinx

 

While on the subject of elephants , I had a friend once we all called ‘2 ply’ because he was thick-skinned; he didn’t feel like the rest of us; things had to be intense to get through that extra layer but when they did, he felt and gave out generously. Some found him a little distant.

 

My mother had a saying, “I can forgive but not forget.” She was good at grudges. My uncle, who was the recipient on more than one occasion, said she carried a chip on her shoulder big as a butcher’s block.

 

My other uncle had elephantiasis. He was always adjusting himself in the groin area. It looked like he was playing with himself in public. He and auntie never had children. Some nights in adolescence I would lie awake and think about uncle and his swollen scrotum. I had a ghoulish fascination with enlarged body parts. Doesn’t everyone?

The First Word

 

Sieve_(PSF)

What’s the first word you’re going to forget? The first word that’s going to slip through the sieve in your brain?

The name of your partner, child, grandson?

With me it was an item of food.

A breakfast food we eat once a week on Wednesday. I knew it began with ‘c’ and that it was a French-sounding word like ‘croutons’ but it wasn’t that.

I could have asked my partner but I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

I did not want to acknowledge that ‘the forgetting’ had begun.

 Then after a week it came to me in a flash, like the click of a thumb. I wrote it down on a pad with a marker pen just in case but I needn’t have bothered.

Now I enjoy my croissants that little bit more.

 

 

 

2061

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[written in 1986, the day before]

 

I suppose

I will hold your hand

That night

The comet passes over

And I will guide your young, young eyes

And show you its starry path

Across these Southern skies

And say,

“Look, that is the comet”

And you will stare in wonder with me

And perhaps we will never be

This close again.

And I will say,

“Look closely. One day when you

Are very, very old

You will tell your children what it was like

On this day”

And they will hold your hand

That day in 2061

And ask you,

“Did grandma and grandma see it with you?”

And you will shake

Your tired old eyes

And remember

Though we will long be dust

Like a comet’s tail.