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Sign of the Times

Patricia Young


The last elephant on earth took apart the house
we'd spent our lives building. Board by board, nail by nail.
She sang as she ducked electrical cables and phone lines,
a harrowing song of scorched earth. The tip of her trunk
so delicate not a window was broken, not a plate
or wineglass. At last we could see into the rooms
we'd lived in for years, empty but for an abandoned
wasp's nest. Mardi Gras celebrants paraded past
and so did the family living next to the nuclear power plant.
Baby and dog glowed like those florescent green frogs
that sprang from the earth that wet, wet autumn. And
there were our children, running through Barker's Field,
climbing the oak trees, stealing eggs from their nests —
sparrowhawks, buzzards, peregrines, red kites, corn buntings,
yellowhammers. We wanted to believe in their innocence
but in the cold brightness of the moment knew they were thieves.
All this happened years ago, and still we wake in a house
without ceilings or walls, windows or wineglasses, flutter
of ghost-wings in the rafters, a deep infrasonic warbling.


Patricia Young's works copyright © to the author.


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