Kristi Beer works for Inprint, a literary non-profit organization in Houston, and was a juried poet at the 2003 and 2006 Houston Poetry Fest. She has had poetry published in TimeSlice, Frogpond and Happy. She lives in Bellaire with her daughter, a much younger version of herself, a dog and four cats.
When you were five,
I took you to ride an elephant–
the elephant took you,
there’s no telling an elephant
what to do.
Everyone looked happy
atop the pachyderm,
tricking the mother hen in me.
I had no experience with elephants,
only wasps and fire ants
cars and swimming pools
honey before your first birthday
aspirin before the age of 16
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
I had protected you from them all.
Then, a moment of joie de vivre
at the Singapore Zoo
and I was caught off guard.
You, in front, me behind.
Then, three more climbed on.
“Move up,” the man said to you–
I remember his circus-striped pants
and burnt orange face; a Planters Peanuts man.
I did my best to defy gravity that day,
squeezing my thighs against the creature,
his coarse hair chafing me
and holding onto you–My Dear Life.
Too late to turn back,
we were in the hands of fate
and on the back of an elephant.
“Please, God, keep us safe,”
I, the atheist, said to myself
as I imagined your small body
crushed under one foot.
But to you, I said,
“Isn’t this fun?”