Hannibal’s Elephants

It had seemed to her

that just as she was

getting used to summer

the tunnel of winter was

waiting to engulf

 

Seasons are unevenly distributed

The dark half always outweighs

 

She slumped into the beanbag chair

The gazebo in the yard was glistening with rain

Inside was

comfort but mustiness

brown walls, brown shelves

brown post-Vatican II habits

 

Sister Mary Francesca, brown as a hazelnut,

glowered from her desk

with eyes the diameter of a Smucker’s jar lid

Chastity and sweets

Chastity and sweets

make for a diabetic shuffling on her feet

Intoning sterility

life’s vocation, life-in-death

Our Lady of Perpetual Coffee Breath

 

It had seemed to her

that unobtrusive treasures beckoned

from their crisp, cellophane jackets

Discovered by happenstance

during last week’s study hall meandering

Not for her the glossy, pedestrian pages of Seventeen

 

Life’s kernels of wisdom embedded in the annals

of ancient history and modernist philosophy

she thought it odd that they shared the same shelving space

Who knew that Isaac Asimov wrote about the Romans?

Heidegger, Sartre, Camus

Apuleius and Catullus

 

Her breasts heaved at the recall

She rose from her seat, punctuated by

brief crunch sound

the ass imprint augured nothing

 

Not much time before

the homeroom bell summons sounded

to drift in a sea of vacuity

as the preppies and the sluts

the metal-heads and the new-wavers

all with their signature shortened skirts

and poofy do’s

careened past her in the halls

 

She perused Asimov’s account of the Punic Wars

and felt a strange expansiveness of soul

Unprecedented advances, schemes and counter-schemes,

decision and failure, risk and success

 

And to the untold herds of elephants

the certainty that the

 

Seasons are unevenly distributed

The dark half always outweighs.

 

She fought back bitter tears.

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