Out of the blue our three-year-old
declares he doesn’t like the elephant.
For days he repeats—unbidden, as if recalling
a nightmare—that he doesn’t like the elephant.
It is funny, at first, then confusing, concerning
even. We plumb the meaning of elephant
like Freud or Jung might, consider every angle,
scour the house as though for elephant dung
but all we find is a small plastic figurine
he ignores when we call it to his attention.
When at last we ask what elephant he doesn’t like,
he says, matter-of-factly, the one outside my window.
That night the Santa Ana winds rush past our house
like a herd of flaming horses stampeding for relief
in the cold Pacific, or a rusty brakeless train, and we hear it:
the sharp scrape of branches on roof keeps us up all night.
The tree-trimmers are here now, sawing away. Is this how
it begins, then—the culling of the mind so we sleep soundly?