Shirley

This poem was written by Isaac Clemens, a student at University of California, Berkeley, after viewing the story about Shirley and Jenny on Animal Planet.

We gratefully accept his offer to publish the poem on our website and hope you will feel a tug at your heartstrings as you read it.

Welcome to the Sanctuary!Shirley
Isaac Clemens

They say an elephant never forgets.
I do not.
Memories should bring joy.
They do not.
These are my memories.

At five:
Harvested from Asia's plains
for fifty years of
costumes, headstands, handwaving
under giant mobile shade.

The abuse:
My tusk broken
Ear shredded
Right leg shattered by a bull
crazy with caged rage

My feet:
Soles so torn
the Keeper's hand,
greased by pus and blood,
slides all the way in.

The trauma:
My family and land stolen from me.
Babies, brothers, sisters
met behind bars.
And twenty-two long years
Alone. Alone.

Fifty-two:
A home at last.
Hohenwald
free range, bathing, food, and —
One of the children?

Trunks entwine through the bars
Seeking, checking, hoping.
She remembers me!
My baby now.

I will give her shade
And watch her while she sleeps.
My daughter.
At last,
something worth remembering.