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Jan 2012
After a great while the paper elephants march
In their sparse herd they lumber along
One by one, their thick legs slam into the earth
Like pennies on a timpani
Leaving slight imprints in the dust

No one is quite sure where they come from
All we know is they just are there
Some raise their children before witnessing the elephants
A lucky few will even see them a second time at the end of their lives
It is not uncommon for generations to pass without the paper elephants
Sometime the periods between their journeys are so long the elephants are dissolved into folktale

The paper elephants are bestowed an almost supernatural quality
The stories are birthed in secrecy between the lights of candles
In the ears of the men in the corner
From the hushed lips whispered in acquiescence.
Every story is different
Every story has the same ending
Every story has the same moral
You do not touch the paper elephants

Perhaps the stories have some truth
If anyone knows the validity they have been dead for quite some time
No matter, man’s superstitious nature will see to the protection of the elephants

The paper elephants are called β€œpaper elephants” because it describes them quite nicely
From a distance they look just like normal elephants
Lumbering over from side to side
But their skin is like paper
Their essence is like paper

They travel together
Even the old and young
When it rains the young hide under the larger elephants
Lest they get wet and melt into the earth
It is not uncommon to find the soaked remains of an elder elephant
Crumpled by a sad consequence
It always serves as a reminder
The old exist to protect the young

Most likely the elephants can be found roaming through our graveyards
Here their pace noticeably slows down
Often enough, they can be found sitting next to a tombstone
Resting their trunks over the epitaphs

Strange things happen when the elephants are in the graveyards
Sometimes laughter can be heard
Sometimes sobbing
As the elephants rest the blue mist rises from the graves

The blue is the most reassuring shade
The misty fog rises and fills the entire yard
Until it is absorbed by the paper elephants
With a long sigh the elephants continue their journey

After many such stops
The elephants arrive at the tree
Gnarled and ancient, it welcomes the elephants with silence
As it has for years and years past
It is here the elephants have yearned to arrive
Under the knobs and strikes of its branches
They bend the knee
The young watch to learn
The adults look up to the sky
And release all that they carry
The hopes, dream, and memories of those long gone
Ascend to the heavens
The paper elephants collapse exhausted but content
And look upon their children one last time
They weep before leaving this world
Not for their children’s sorrow
But because there are no paper elephants to carry them to the next world
Will Storck
Written by
Will Storck
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   Will Storck
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