by Angela J. Rydell

Pregnant Woman Thinks of Rainforest

The elephant stands on a stool—one-footed—
a teacup curled in her trunk, the delicate gauze of a tutu
stretched over her ample torso.

Some kids nearby have become the quietest
they’ve been in probably weeks, mouths four poised O’s,

as if in awe, she believes, of how love can be so fat and enormous,
thick-skinned, compliant when trained, yet twitching

a sail-sized ear, a tail, its true nature bursting the seams

of its costume, tuned to the far off stammers of toucans,
the flexible cage of a zebra’s running body,

while balanced so carefully in the spotlight, on stage,

on one small point, chair top to foot, and what a foot:

strong as a Mack truck, sensitive as the bones of the ear,

evolved, when pressed, to feel,

through any molecule on its wide pad of sole,

tremors, voices, seismically wise,

speaking to her through the shifting earth.

-originally published in The Beloit Poetry Journal, winter 2008