Anne Ward Jamieson
ELEPHANT DROPS DEAD IN THE RING
No stunt of his has ever awed a crowd
like this vast sudden mound he’s made
out of himself.
Mommy, is he sleeping?
The pink dot of a woman pirouetting
on his head has toppled off like a sequin
cut loose from its thread.
The problem of his body
lies inert where it fell, a sawdust blanket
sifting over him, absorbing his circus smell.
Our collective gasp
rises like a stray balloon
clear up to the big top’s peak to settle
in fresh gloom. The children ride quietly
home. Read us a story, Mommy.
Goodnight stars. Goodnight air.
Goodnight noises everywhere.
Goodnight, Elephant. There there.
—from Rattle #41, Fall 2013
Tribute to Single Parent Poets
Anne Ward Jamieson: “A while back there was an op-ed columnist whose work I followed in the newspaper both for what she had to say and how well she said it. She was a single mother. Then, inexplicably, the quality of her columns seemed to take a disappointing dip. But I read on and, one day, she mentioned being recently married. I was instantly convinced that explained her poor performance. I know it could have been because she was very very busy or very very happy or both or something else entirely but my immediate take on it was that she had someone she shared her inner thoughts with, someone to talk to, someone whose attention obviated the need to spill her feelings to the general public.”