One fine morning, down the street,
An elephant I chanced to meet:
“Good day,” I said, and trying to pass
Spoiled my shoes in the dewy grass.
(For he filled the sidewalk, where
He stood without a thought or care.)
“Excuse me sir, I’m late for work!”
I shouted up, a bit berserk.
“If I’m not there by half-passed eight
“I’ll loose my job for being late!”
(But he pretended not to hear
And simply smiled from ear to ear.)
“What’s wrong with elephants these days?!”
I cursed, my liver now ablaze.
“Don’t you watch the stock-exchange?!”
“Time is money! Life is change!”
(He waved his ears and gave a yawn
And nodded to the rising sun.)
“I’ve sweated all my life to be
“Important in the company!
“No elephant will make me stop
“My ardent race to reach the top!”
(With his trunk he picked a rose
And pushed it up against my nose.)
“Listen here you thoughtless brute,
“Perhaps you think you’re being cute,
“But you’d better face the fact:
“You’re holding evolution back!”
At this remark he seemed to grow
And over me, a shadow throw;
A shadow cool and comforting . . .
I wondered what was happening.
Just then I noticed in his eyes
A clear blue depth, like endless skies.
And did, or did I not there see
All life, all hope, all destiny?
Suddenly I seemed to wake
And gave myself a good, strong shake.
“What is . . . where am . . . how did . . .?” said I.
“Where is that god who made me cry?”
(Then wiping tears from both my eyes
I stepped back in great surprise.)
For there before me on the walk
A little child stood looking up.
With head just slightly to one side
He sweetly watched my melting pride.
(I felt embarrassed by his gaze
Which read me like the sun’s pure rays.)
With smile playing on his lips
He quickly turned, and off he skipped.
Was it my heart that, by his whim,
Ran that day along with him?
That was a long, long time ago.
And though today I’m gray and old
I feel that child within me still.
And gratefully, I always will.
– Edward E. Saugstad, Cambridge, summer of ’87