Today, an elephant stands
alone at the Bronx Zoo.
Alone is relative, hundreds of us
pass by with cameras, waving.
A guide tells us Her name is Happy.
The sentence sways in the air.
This may not be true,
a man taps into his phone.
I wonder if he can know this.
There are 40,000 muscles
in an elephant’s trunk.
My daughter’s legs are cramping,
growing pains maybe. A study
in 2020 outlines our neglect for pain
in children, procedural development.
Last week, I found her crying over a video.
Asian elephants carrying their calf
in the soft touch of their trunks,
a braided rumbling before they lowered
it to the ground. She said it looked like grief.
How could she know this?
The tip of the trunk is the most sensitive
tissue ever studied, bundled with nerve endings.
A baby waves to Happy. My daughter doesn’t
notice, overloaded by sensory input,
that she has started to tug at her hair.
An elephant can pick up a single blade
of grass or pull down trees if it wants to.
We move on. Happy curls hay.
The paddock is treeless.