Sujata Bhatt

Elephant and Boats

How clever, you thought, how surreal -
But actually, it’s climate change, my dear.

Every year the circus comes to town -
that’s when we know it’s summer.

That’s when we learn
skinny gypsy brown - sharp knives in every song - 

This time the elephant gets off the boat
right at the Arc de Triumph.

There is so much water now,
saplings have sprouted on top of the Arc.

Such a good sailor he’s become,
your star elephant - night after night
he dreams of boats so real,
so beautiful, they’ve come to life
and now they follow him everywhere.

Summer in Paris can be pale, so pale -
that’s why we crave baby blue, gentle baby blue
smelling of baby powder. Will it revive us?

The bones of the Unknown Soldier remember
cobblestones - cobblestones and courting doves -
how collared doves soften cobblestones - 
brownish grey feathers, shades of blue anded grey
and cream flushed with pink - such lightness
            and a rose, a rose - 
such warmth in a colour you’ll never know - 
a young girl’s blush caught by the sun -
the bones of the Unknown Soldier remember - 

Sandy beige and grey are fine, you say -  
    blue is rarely a problem -
white fits in, but red must be subdued.
Never mind the tricolore. Never mind.

When they see the elephant’s boats,
all the little boys remember
they have sailboats too - when they see
the elephant’s boats, all the little boys rush out to play.

But a little girl has seen the giant dragonfly -
seen how it hovers above the trees, above
the Arc de Triumph, above the elephant, the boats -
above all of us - a giant dragonfly.

Why? Who is this dragonfly?
A spy in love? With whom?
Exquisite creature clearly waiting for something
or someone. A little girl points and screams -
But can she break the spell?