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
commemorative plates for the movie 300 in a caption-writing contest. She earns her keep as
a copy-editor in Greensboro, NC.