Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The elephant in the room

There he stands in the corner where the big black spiders also lurk. He keeps still and quiet while we plan our meals, laugh with our friends, listen to our music, read our books. Now and then we mention him and we discuss his shape and colour and move on. He comes with us to the restaurants, the parties, the shopping centres, people don't seem to see him.

Sometimes when we plan for next summer, or celebrate a birthday or especially when a cross word is spoken, a why do you always or a why can you never..he lifts his tail or curls his trunk ready to show his presence; but then retreats to the shadows. Tomorrow we will pack him away with the wine we will take back; with the clothes we never wore; he will twitch a little when we wonder, but don't voice maybe, the question about when and how we will return, bald maybe; less than the full complement of lungs maybe.

One day, hopefully a long way off, he will rampage through our world and break the pots and the pictures, devastate our order, upset our children and their children and then turn and mourn, as elephants do, his old companion.


  1. Gosh, Jean, that is such an apt description! The elephant in the room, for me, is usually standing on top of our luggage. We love to travel, and every time we plan a trip, I wonder if I will be well so that we can go -- or if I will be sick and we will have to cancel! I am glad that you are blogging.

  2. You just can't get a decent mahout for love nor money these days...

    I liked to imagine that metaphorical elephant trying to hide his saggy, muddy bum behind a standard lamp or a potted plant. It was nice to think he was playing the game, and was consequently even more ridiculous than us. Maybe we should credit this particular elephant with no such faux humanity. Maybe we should shop him; call him by his name as often as we can; not allow him even a second's anonymity. Maybe not. What is certain is that he's not welcome in my mom's room. Nobody around here invited him. And if I had the faintest notion how to deal with elephants, I'd kick the big grey interloper out. Given that I don't...

    very moving blog, mom. Keep it up. Lots of love, Sam xx

  3. This elephant, we know he's there. We don't want to acknowledge him or greet him - he may be of the rogue variety and separate us.
    I'm going to think he's kindly, quiet and tranquil; in fact, I think "he" is a "she", watching to make sure we don't stray too far away, ready to nudge us along when we need it.
    Come to think of it, what say we turn her into the pink variety the next time we meet and give her a good time?
    Love you.
    Pat & Dick xxx

  4. Elephants and turtles…

    I imagine balancing on the backs of two giant turtles, one foot on each, moving slowly, ever onwards though my space, always hoping that they glide steadily and in unison while I gather family and friends on board for the ride.
    Sometimes, we stand high and tall, confident and conquering with arms outstretched – its wonderful.
    Sometimes a slight movement out of sync causes an almighty wobble, humongersly bad. Forcing us to contort awkwardly against our will in desperation to stop the crash and regain harmony – its as far from wonderful as it gets.
    I imagine the gentlest touch from a steady hand, passed from person to person…

    I’d like Jean’s elephant to skidaddle out of the corner, hop on someone else’s turtles and fall, undignified and most definitely, into a very large, very very deep elephant pit.

    Your blog is amazing Jean, just like you. Lots of love Jo x

  5. I've been thinking about this post since I read it the other day.

    That final paragraph is just... well, unbearable and beautiful all at the same time. You are a brilliant writer Jean.