Poetry by Silke Feltz

“How to Touch an Elephant”
             By Silke Feltz

Maybe this is my only chance to accidentally find true love. Maybe
It will happen somewhere between my foolish hopes and India’s heat—
or maybe I will meet love in the least pretentious corner of my heart
because this place marks the end of an emotional and restless quest
as I smile among this playful and sparkling beehive of innocent children.
They take my shy hand and we excitedly run to finally see an elephant.

We rush through the streets and cut corners to find the elephant
and as our hearts beat faster and our fast legs carry us with love,
I look around us. I am the only adult among these laughing children.
Suddenly, we stand still under the blinding sun of India’s relentless heat
because there she is— strong and confident— at the end of our quest
for the most beautiful creature with a kindred spirit and soft heart.

I look at her and her gentle gaze sees right into my wandering heart
as I feel her wise eyes tell me, with the silent knowledge an elephant
can only savor, that I will be okay in my exhausting and numbing quest.
I try to escape from a marriage that has lost, without intent, its salt.
Standing here in front of this temple elephant in Kerala’s persistent heat
helps me cope with the shattering pain of never having any children

on my own. But right now, I am standing next to playful, laughing children
who show me that I can, no matter in what form, be a mother at heart.
I move towards her, slowly inching closer in this almost unbearable heat
so our eyes lock in kindness and strength. This moment, the elephant
tells me we are all connected through an unabated and continual love
in our constant struggles. I am not alone anymore in my desolate quest.

Today marks the peaceful end of my seemingly endless, desperate quest.
It doesn’t matter if my husband doesn’t want a baby because these children
here envelope me with curious eyes and such fierce and innocent love.
I know I will be okay at the end of this long day, listening to my open heart
beating in the same rhythm as hers, and all I want is to touch this elephant,
right here and right now, in the middle of this daring and unbroken heat.

I stand next to her, with her, and we all ignore the fierce waves of heat
since this is what I came here for, this is the end of my consuming quest,
and I reach out my small hand, as if in slow motion, and feel the elephant’s
warm, grey skin peacefully breathe in and out. The curious pack of children
begins to giggle because children always sense a queasy and aching heart
and all I can master to feel this second is an forgiving rush of pure love.
I traveled all the way to India because I mourned not having children
In my own life. I will never be a mother but what I found within the heart
of an elephant is that we all are forever connected through a simple love.

- Silke Feltz is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Oklahoma. As a vegan rhetorician, she studies food ethics. Her poetry has been published in Drunk Monkeys, Peeking Cat Poetry Anthology, and Writer: Craft & Context. In her spare time, Silke directs StreetKnits, a humanitarian knitting charity that provides knitwear to the homeless.

Copyright©2022 by Silke Feltz. All Rights Reserved.