Elephants and Other Extinctions
I still remember those gray giants doing the cancan. Uncle Gus took me to see them make their midnight march down 34th Street, such a solemn procession of wagging trunks and tails. Too big for trains or trucks they let them go tromping along what used to be the 59th Street Bridge. Some of you might live in that very same spot. Now it’s the Glitz & Glammy Towers. I’ll never forget that first whiff of poop and how big their legs were, thick and smooth as beech trees. I guess you haven’t heard of them either. They were these enormous leafy-filled things. Kids used to love to climb their branches and get kites stuck in them. Anyway, back to the program. What else could they do with their trunks? That’s right, they could hose themselves down, and slurp through that humongous straw. But you want to know something really neat? They could snorkel through their trunks. They were underrated swimmers like yours truly.
Once, when I was five, I rode an Asian one at the Bronx Zoo. What’s that? Oh you never heard about those either. Well, it was like a great big mall of live animals. They had lions, gorillas, hippos, and toucans. They sold cotton candy, soda, hot dogs, and peanuts, and to make sure you got your money’s worth, I guess, or more precisely, so they got their full money’s worth, they sold stuffed souvenirs of all the animals on display.
Anyway, contrary to popular misconception, they were still, lumbering about twenty years ago, they just didn’t have any more tusks. Their tusks were snatched off by these dirty peddlers called poachers because everybody went apeshit for ivory. When you play “Clair de lune” or “Chopsticks” on your pianos you’re keying into their sacred past. Some of your mommies probably wear cameos with penny-sized slices of their brothers’ tusks.
Now over there is a replica of their burial ground. Knowing that they mourned their lost loved ones always puts a knot in my throat, makes me feel kind of melancholy. Used to give me hope that someday the rest of us so-called humans might grow big Dumbo ears and trunks, and be good to one another.
Who knows the coolest thing about them? Nope, but they played their trunks like trumpets. You’re kidding right? It was only the greatest instrument ever. It made this haunting, bittersweet sound, could make you jump out of your skin, and sometimes it would realign your chakras.
Okay, I think that’s enough for now. Raise your paw if you need to use the restroom.
About the author:
Before his words found their way into print, John snapped the Eyesore of the Week for the Queens Ledger. Now he spits wine for a living. His work has appeared in Monkeybicycle, Word Riot, Writer’s Digest, The Main Street Rag, Newtown Literary, Twisted Vine, Digging Through The Fat, and elsewhere. He is the author of the novels Shades of Luz and Disposable Heroes. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. You can read more of his stuff here.