Elephant Nannies

Billiard’s Pick
Diana Dominguez

At the elephant orphanage in Kenya,
dozens of gentle men
mother the elephants
made motherless by poachers,
exploding the myth
that maternal instinct
belongs to women only.

It’s one man to one elephant;
they feed, bathe, cuddle,
soothe, sing lullabies, and
sleep alongside their charges
ready to chase away
elephant versions
of monsters in the closet.

The bond is established early;
upon introduction
serpentine trunks caress
the nannies, imprinting
the unique smell
that will forever mean “mommy”
in their pachydermal memories.

“This one,” says a nanny,
gently patting the head
of his fearful, agitated charge,
“witnessed his mother’s murder;
it will be years before
he learns to trust me.”

“The drawback,” he says,
“of having a memory
like an elephant.”

“I am currently an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College where I teach primarily ancient, classical, and medieval literature and women’s studies. Both my research and creative writing activities focus primarily on giving voice to characters and historical people, especially women, usually overlooked or forgotten by traditional history or current news reports. I have presented creative and scholarly work at various regional, national, and international conferences, and published fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and scholarly work in regional and national publications.” E-mail: gypsyscholar[at]rgv.rr.com

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