the elephants are on parade tonight, the stilt walkers
beneath the moon dust, pulling stones
and passing through the marble floors,
roaming the catacombs at twilight.
there’s a legend that he belonged to the first pope
rubbery ankles following the pontiff through gilded chapel halls
his reins are like shackles,
clinks penetrating the silence
mercy adorns his tusks, and the caps
of his teeth are raw,
sharpened and filled with drill holes
like ivory thrones
showcasing the skin’s porcelain
letting the crows
pick the bones of the deep sockets.
his ghost is the eighth sacrament
an offering pounding down the dank stairways.
the scared old man in the dim bedrooms
attended by his servants
sees only a beast’s dark eyes
the elephant has always been there
blood weighing heavy on his rippling breath.