Mornings, the newborn elephant floats out
in front of me, stiff-legged and leathered,
spiraling in place.
I reach for him, to hold him to my chest.
His trunk uncurls and wraps around my arm,
squeezes straight through to bone
and I don’t want to kill him but I will.
My mother warned these are the dreams of womanhood.
She taught me swim or drown
when my small legs grew weary of the lake.
And so I tasted it,
opened my eyes wide in the murky wet
and watched the last sun trapped
in swirls of dirt, sticks, rotting leaves,
the gummy eggs of fish—
till I forgot my way back out to air.
Emily Banks is an MFA candidate at the University of Maryland, where she has taught literature, composition, and creative writing courses. Her poems have appeared in the anthology “What Matters” (Jacar Press, 2013), Mikrokosmos, Steam Ticket, Crab Creek Review, and West Trade Review, among others. She was named a finalist in the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival’s 2015 Poetry Contest, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Jersey City, NJ. Follow her on twitter at @embanxxx