40th Anniversary Feature: IMAGE
By LYNN DOMINA
BWR Poetry Editor, 1984-1985
Carole says choose an image
and so I choose this African elephant.
I want to lay my hand behind her massive
draping ear, imagining her tenderness.
If I could trace
my finger along her fine wrinkles or the veins
mapping her ear, I could discover
how to get from here
to there, that place
I am headed. I have seen
a mother loop her trunk across the forehead of her young,
and I have placed my hand
in a cast of her footprint. Everything else
I know secondhand—
how elephants raise the bones
of their dead with their trunks,
how they dig through salty soil
with their tusks, how their foraging
decimates savannahs, how enraged bulls kill
humans who’ve taunted them,
how poachers scout herds.
How have I come here,
to rage and death? Carole asked us
to choose an image for our altars. I chose
a photograph of an elephant, her stare direct,
uneasy, brush obscuring her legs, as I hoped
beyond reason for the creature
to reveal its creator.
Lynn Domina is the author of two collections of poetry, Corporal Works and Framed in Silence, and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, Arts & Letters, The Massachusetts Review, and other periodicals. She is currently a student at the Earlham School of Religion, where she has taken courses in the Ministry of Writing program. “Image” emerged from one of her courses at ESR. You can read more at www.lynndomina.com.
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