International Peace Day

 

 

The Eloquent Young Elephant  

 

Did you hear the elephants

Trumpeting last night?

They thundered past my bedroom

The earth rumbled back in fright.

They were going to fight a battle

Thump-galumping off to war

Did you hear a wee small voice say

"what are we fighting for?"

 

Did you see the elephant kerfuffle

As they stopped marching on?

A toppled pile of elephants

A jungle tangle until dawn

 

As they were unravelling

Their tails and trunks and ears

They had a chance to listen

Did you have a chance to hear?

 

The smallest of the elephants

The one who'd asked "What for?"

Crawled out from underneath and said

"I will not go to war!"

"I may be young but listen

I'm old enough to know

If I go on to battle

I might....

Die."

 

Well...

You could have heard the moon cry

As the night continued on

As that elephant elaborated

On what was right and wrong

 

Did you see the older elephants

Start to twitch their trembling ears?

Did you see those elder elephants

Weep enormous tears?

 

Did you think they'd flood the jungle

And we'd all float out to sea?

(I was a little worried -

I'm a fretful chimpanzee)

 

Did you hear their snozzles snivelling

A sound like thunder through a hose

You have to plug your ears when

An elephant blows his nose

(And there must have been a hundred

More or less, I suppose)

 

Then …

Did you see the early morning sun

Come shining through the trees

In a leafy shadow dance

In the early morning breeze?

 

As the elephants turned homewards

With the smallest in the lead

Did you hear them sing a song of

The smallest’s greatest deed?

 

Their trunks had turned from trumpets

That had been sounding off for war

Into flutes and pipes and piccolos

That played of peace forever more

 

Do you know it really happened?

As wild as it might seem

The youngest was the wisest

And peace was not a dream

 

Sheree Fitch, from If You Could Wear my Sneakers, Doubleday, 1997.