From the Elephants' Graveyard

 Seeking its own level,
 the circus elephant's memory
 seeps from the mound
 that was its body, cooling
 in a borrowed barn in Georgia.

 Days of rain, days of no water.
 Rumbling pleasure, misery, slow healing.
 Smells. Routines. The beloved others.
 One man's face, tipped into her weak eyes
 over and over for years.

 An unseen rivulet,
 thick as tar distilled
 from a forest's record of rings,
 it slips through the straw
 and the tired farmyard clay,

 through compacted layers of marl and schist,
 crystal ribs of lizards
 and limestone caverns nursing echoes,
 and it joins the oily stream
 from the elephants' graveyard--

 the secret of whose map-defying location
 is that it's everywhere.
 Slower than oblivion,
 the river winds past
 buckled roots of mountains,

 slides between rock plates
 seamed with disaster,
 works through the restless mantle and feeds
 the burning core
 that dumbly keeps us warm.
Sarah Lindsay is the author of two books--Mount Clutter and Primate Behavior,
a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award--with another scheduled for publication in
2008. She has published poems in
The Atlantic, The Kenyon Review, The Paris
Review, Parnassus, The Yale Review,
and other magazines, and recently won a set of
commemorative plates for the movie
300 in a caption-writing contest. She earns her keep as
a copy-editor in Greensboro, NC.