Belinda Subraman


The Accidental Elephant

Letís say youíre traveling in India
and an elephant in a Hindu temple
salutes you with his trunk.
You notice the designs and paintings
on his forehead and body
and move in closer for a look.
The elephant wraps his trunk around you.
He likes you.

Hindus crowd around to see the white boy
blessed by Ganesh, a favorite god of good luck.
Letís say they begin to see you
as a reincarnation of Ganesh,
put garlands around your neck,
and bring you food, especially butter and limes.

Letís say you enjoy the attention,
the smiling admiring faces.
Then through an interpreter
you hear their prayers and pleas.
You learn they want their dying to be made healthy,
their destitute to be made wealthy,
their crippled to walk, their mute to talk.

Letís say youíre inclined to give
the Sermon on the Mount and bless them with platitudes.
You even practice healings but none of them work.
So you learn magic and wow them with tricks,
enough so they bring you even more flowers, butter and limes
and their hard earned precious few rupees.

You accept them and bless them again.
They seem to be happy.
But you are not.
You live with an elephant.
You are god-like.
You are a liar.