Friday, June 26, 2009

The Elephant's Daughter

They hanged an elephant in Tennessee
For killing one or two unruly clots.
It happened in the year nineteen sixteen.
It must have been a gruesome thing to watch.
In South Carolina, four score years hence,
The daughter of an elephant has drowned
Her kids. It seems the animal had squashed
Her heart. That's what the coroner had found.
I don't know a lot about pachyderms.
Sometimes severely arid spells make them
Withhold all water from their young.
But do incestuous Republicans?
That might explain the water's fatal pull.
Perhaps the girl was praying to the well.

One tosses coins into a wishing well.
Like burying a seed, or priming pumps,
It always requires something valuable
Be lost, so that some better thing will come.
What could she hope to come from such a loss?
Was she searching for a better husband?
Did she truly want to marry her boss?
Or just somehow escape from this arid land?
Her counsel argued it was the latter.
The jury found her guilty anyway,
But have not yet decided the matter
Of punishment. They will do that today.
Why stop with her? Why not hang her father,
The elephant who kept her from water.

(c) 1996 Frederick Ingram

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