Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, April 05, 2014

E is for Elephant's Foot

Think Chernobyl,
molten masses melting
at over 2,000 degrees Centigrade, 
then solidifying in layers 
to form a lump of corium 
underneath the reactor,
nicknamed Elephant's Foot.

A poet once said,
we might die by fire,
but ice would suffice.
This is the fire
that will melt our bones.

I would rather watch
an elephant eat the heart
of a baobab tree.

Today's poem is late as I volunteered at a book sale that took up most of the day, and my feet are trash. 

I took this little, 21-second video during a trip to Tasmania in Africa two years ago where we did see this small elephant eating the inner, soft bark of a baobab tree. You can hear our guides talking softly; "Sowa, sowa" means "Let's go!"

The baobab tree is considered by some to be that mythical upside-down tree, for its branches look more like roots, another World Tree that began all life as we know it.

I never thought of elephants as destructive particularly, though we've all heard of elephants run amok, perhaps maddened by restraints. Yet we could follow the path that the elephants had taken, so marked by downed trees.

I'm trying to write a poem a day as part of the April A to Z Challenge. Read what others have written here.

Read more about Elephant's Foot and Chernobyl here.
Read Robert Frost's poem, "Fire and Ice" here.


  1. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Powerful poem, Beth! I really enjoy when I can learn something about life from art. Thank you for being a teacher today! :)

    1. All this info about Elephant's Foot was new to me! I did a search for E words, really like elephants, and was intrigued by the link to Chernobyl. How Robert Frost came into it, I do not know. Serendipity? Thank you!

  2. I like this a lot! And I had no idea that Elephant's Foot existed, so thanks for widening my world a bit.

  3. Excellent post, Beth. I was in E. Europe during the Chernobyl disaster. We had to stay inside most of the day, and used masks when venturing out. Scary times.
    Great poem, thanks so much for sharing.
    Silvia @