Jodie Hollander is originally from Wisconsin and now lives and works in Washington DC. An alumni of the Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa University, her poetry has appeared in a number of poetry magazines and journals both in the
UK and America. She has also received a Fullbright Scholarship and is due to receive a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013.
The Humane Society is her debut pamphlet.
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The Glass Elephants from The Humane Society
I always thought I’d knock all twenty-two of them off
the window-sill in one clean
sweep, smashing legs, trunks and tusks on the shiny
hardwood floor, but I never
disturbed the perfect order that gave the illusion of
one seamless line of elephants.
He’d measured the exact distance between their
feet, spaced them so no trunk ever quite
touched a tail. Each elephant was a different shape
and size, and each elephant was from
a different country, but they were all from that same
woman who had left him years ago.
The leader was faceless and was made of a proud
marble-green. Its two sturdy tusks
converged around a raised trunk that appeared
frozen in a violent call of danger.
The smallest was a legless calf made of clear blown
glass from Italy. It had cartoonish
ears, unopened eyes and sat chubby on its
haunches, making it stand out from the line.
He’d often threatened to remove the little one from
his perfect line and smash its clumsy
body, but he never touched any of them, and
neither did I. Instead, each morning
I’d watch him wipe the dust and sunbeams off
each elephant’s back, rub their glass
bellies with a rag, and re-measure the spacing
between their feet, ensuring nothing
had moved during the night. Then he’d gently
circle the rag over their glass eyes, to clear
their view of the panorama of a dead brown valley,
stretching for miles and miles ahead.