How to bathe an elephant

A mahout rode her down the stream to where it widened out – a bath fit for an elephant. She sank on her haunches expectantly as we, up to our waists in the cold clear

A mahout rode her down the stream
to where it widened out - a bath fit for an elephant.
She sank on her haunches expectantly
as we, up to our waists in the cold clear water,
scrubbed her back with coarse grass.
The only sounds the rasp of the husks
on her deeply lined skin
and the water soft against the rocks.
Her eyes were closed - a regular at the beauty parlour,
or perhaps in meditation at this ritual immersion.
She rose to her feet majestically,
water Niagaring from her broad back,
and strolled purposefully home
her great ears challenged the breeze
tail flicked from side to side.
We followed, dripping, but respectful.

Clair Chilvers was a cancer scientist. She divides her time between writing and running the charity Mental Health Research UK. She lives in Gloucestershire, UK. She has had poems published in Agenda, Allegro, Amaryllis, Artemis, Atrium, Ekphrastic Review, Impspired, Ink Sweat and Tears, Sarasvati.