The Elephant in the room
He’s been there since the day you were born but
we were unaware of him until
we received an unsolicited knock on the door.
He must have slipped in with those nurses
while we were off guard
Ten foot tall, grey and looming.
An unwanted gift is no gift at all.
We didn’t have room for his lumbering weight in our lives
and yet we have shifted to accommodate him.
We’ve moved house a few times
he’s crammed himself into our boxes
the removal men oblivious to his weight
every house far too small for one so huge
yet somehow the walls and rooms bend but do not break
He follows us to every park and every party
we try not to make eye contact with him, just glance through averted eyes
Sometimes he wakes me in the night, I feel him hovering
ominous in the dark,
resting his heavy foot on my chest
sometimes he wakes my husband too
his threatening murmurs coating him in sweat
He is the unease in the back of our minds. The silent knowing glances,
He is the unspoken sentences.
He is the tears we hold back
behind the smiles that say “everything is good”
He remains despite the pills that rattle in my handbag and your stomach
he remains despite the talismanic huffs and blows
and despite the way we beat your chest to try and scare it away
It still remains breathing heavily
in my ear.
I wonder if you can feel its trunk winding around you.
No amount of tears and screams and shouts will deter it.
Believe me I’ve tried.
he’s an old and unloved part of the furniture
or an ugly moulding that can’t be removed.
Even you have started to notice his presence
He is a heavy burden you’ll too soon have to carry alone
You accept him, unquestioningly for now.
But I dread the day you ask how we could have let him in