The Elephants, the Rooms

by David Ray

The elephant was there in the room, almost filling the room, but the people could not see it, a large invisible elephant that had given birth to many, and she was still pregnant, her belly full of horrors.

But she was calm for a moment, calm only to give the people a chance to see her. She bellowed to get the attention she needed, for she had no desire to be in the room. She wanted help to escape and get back to her life in the wild where she could count on fresh air and sunshine and plenty of straw both for her sleeping and the eating.

She was a gross elephant, her head touching the ceiling, and she was filling the room with large balls of her excrement and she could not step out of it. She looked around, begging for help. She bellowed yet again, as loud as large trumpets, but no one saw her. They refused to see her. Surely they could not be so blind, yet not one of them could see her, this invisible elephant blocking the way into the room.

And therefore the people turned and fled down a long dark corridor. They entered another room and there was another elephant, and it stank even more than the other invisible elephant, and therefore the people fled yet again down the corridor, only to encounter room after room, each of them full of invisible elephants. The elephants had taken over the house until there was no place left for the people, who began to realize their plight. Yet they had become blind from their years of unseeing, and so accustomed to inaction that they could not decide what to do.

And therefore they waited for the elephants they could not see to do something about this problem, these problems, the dung and the bellowing, the stink and the horrors. And it was getting ever darker and darker in the corridor.


David Ray is the author of twenty-two books including his latest volume of poetry, After Tagore (Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India, 2008), and is the founding editor of New Letters magazine and New Letters On The Air. He is a two-time winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and has taught at a number of colleges in the U.S.A., including Cornell University, Reed College, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His essay, "On Avoiding a Kafkaesque Fate," appeared in irreal (re)views in August, 2006; his story, "Seven Pieces of Meat," appeared in Issue Twenty of The Cafe Irreal; and his essay, "The Omnipresence of Franz Kafka," appeared in irreal (re)views in February, 2010.