To little boys who wish to cut off the tails of elephants

To little boys who wish to cut off the tails of elephants:

Hang that sharp blade
at your side glinting
and let your boots warm
to the heat of the body
once holding a beating heart

Some little boys tried and never finished
to replace the thing they had taken
by knotting the tendons:
Bow line, sheet bend, clove hitch

One little boy in fact
was only trying to help
the mangy old dog and just like that
his scissors went through bone like brittle twigs

Another still
thought it best to relieve the old hen
of her warm blue blood flashing
red falling into pools
just like that

In neither case
were they able to catch the turning of blue to red
or even avert their eyes
or recall a time before the turning
when their knives sat patiently
on the shelves of their fathers
and their fathers before them
who promised to each in turn

Yes I said yes
when you’re a man

Now with birthright glinting
under a white truthful sun
raise the blade and consider
how decisive its honed edge

On this side the mirrored reflection of a boy
squinting at his likeness
and on the side unseeable
the likeness of sons not yet met
whose inheritance is nothing more than the object
worthy of this moment
under whose rule mighty elephants lay down
at the feet of little boys
and cede the last of their warmth
to the boots there standing


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