We ride elephants
to our rock
on picnic day.
When we arrive – at our boulder –
we dismount
and the elephants
            stay there.

They won’t leave
without us.
They wouldn’t,
but it’s not like
waiting. They don’t wait.
They abide where
we are, and when we’re ready
to be somewhere else,
they’re ready too.
That’s how it feels.

They sway their trunks
in rhythm, back and forth
while we unpack
slices of bread.
We lay the slices
directly on our boulder,
because it’s inexhaustibly clean.
The minerals it precipitates strengthen us.
Napkins and paper plates don’t.

Elephant skin is gray, folded
             and complicated.
The boulder is textured too.
Its colors are subtle.
             Charcoal and rose.
There are little marks, runes
on it – each of us has a favorite.
One looks like part of a crawfish!

              We open jars.
We have miraculous spreads
for open-face sandwiches.
Every sort of fruit
              and its color, blended.
Orange peel, lemon peel… lime wash.
Deep raspberry thinned to pink,
creating stripes along Concord grape.

The spreads look like sherbet,
but they’re warm – not icy,
not silly. Our sandwiches
look like the sky between
park trees in the east, backlit
              in April at dusk;
or the tentacles of anemones
in tide-pools.

              We’re calm
because of the colors, calm
from the minerals
and the elephants.
We’re calm from
the antiquity and subtlety
of the markings on our rock.
              Others lived.
              So can we.


Sue Blaustein is author and publisher of “In the Field, Autobiography of an Inspector” (2018) and a chapbook, “The Beer Line” (2022). She blogs for Ex Fabula (“Connecting Milwaukee Through Real Stories”) and interviews/writes for the Veteran Administration’s “My Life My Story” program. Her publication credits and bio can be found at www.sueblaustein.com.