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
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)
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 Canada 1997.
Art by Darcia Labrosse