I squinted, peering hard at the sign with the scrawling letters just above the front door of the shop, it said “Elephants Only”. I wondered for a moment, should I enter? (me of course not being of the ‘elephant’ variety).
Then I realised that perhaps I was just being a tad too literal, as sometimes happens. I smiled at myself, scratched at my nose where my fringe tickled constantly and shifted my attire, to make certain it wasn’t askew. Why I wanted to make a good impression, beat me, just a feeling I had.
Sometimes, signs can be tricky, tricky to interpret that is!
Crossing the road, my legs felt like matchsticks and bracing the cold, I walked briskly, thinking I’d likely start a fire if my legs went much faster, the bitumen serving as a flint for my red pumps.
I caught a flash of my reflection in the window as I drew nearer and noticed the flush of pink in my cheeks and hair gone wild, as usual, there was just no taming it. My mother would braid it of course, three strands of cherry, blonde, brunette, twisting, turning and falling in on itself. A blessing and a curse, depnding on the occasion.
Today, it didn’t matter, because I felt adventurous, random and brave. I picked up my pace, in spite of an already racing heart, then slowed as I wanted to capture the picture in my mind of what I saw outside, should the interior be disappointing.
I even plucked up the courage to take a happy snap of the sign with my phone and thought, if nothing else comes of today, this “Elephants Only” sign might just stimulate my inspiration enough to make a drawing or a poem later on.
Snap taken, clothes rearranged yet again, hair barely intact, I made a motion to go inside and hoped with fingers criss-crossed, that I wouldn’t seem out of place in an ‘elephant only’ environment.
Inside, the sun shone from a cavity in the ceiling, and the centre of the floor was covered in layers and layers of rich, thick persian rugs and carpets, reminding me of piles of leaves in Autumn. On top of this, placed like an ornament, sat a baby elephant adorned in a patchwork rug, with a tassled rope tied about her rotund little waist, golden toepolish on her nails, she was following my movements closely, all the while with such a sweet expression. I noticed on her forehead was something that resembled the moon, a soft round white patch, as though her grey skin had been bleached, emanating from it was a gentle glow. All about her, were jugs of silver and gold and platters of plump grapes, fruits and vegetables of every kind and I felt my eyes grow misty at the sight.
Awed by the unexpectedness of the vision before me, and this miniature sort of deity, I had forgotten all about myself and had no idea how long I had been standing there, only my aching knee caused me to snap out of my trance.
Gradually, senses other than my sight became aware of muffled sounds and musky smells emanating beyond the piles of rugs and the little elephant, to the far left of centre. With my gaze still affixed to the little one, I tripped and scuffed my way to the threshold and called a quiet “hello?”…“anyone there?”.
I couldn’t see what lay in front of me, for it was all in darkness, but I heard a shuffling of slippers, a limp and a sniff or a snuff, as the case may be. They were approaching me and a large portion of my boldness ebbed away as my heart sank a thousand fathoms.
I was about to consider legging it out of there, when an impish gentlemen with a gyspy-like flair, half my size, with an eye that bulged and a lid that drooped, spoke in a riddle, he said:
“To whom do you belong?
and from where have you come?”
Is you the moon?
or is you a plum?
To this I replied:
“No sir” I said I am but me,
I have no business seeing thee."
Which was, I think, the first time I had ever spoken in a rhyme and this is the conversation that followed:
“Gypsy Rain is my name
and the moon is my aim
I’m squarer than bread
and I’m gone in the head”
“I’m happy to meet you
your aim is the same
as my Grandmother Millie
and Great Aunty Jane!”
“I take it you’ve come
for a swig of my rum
and a stiff upper lip
for the hair in your quiff?”
“Nay, I have entered into
such a strange banter
but certainly not
will I take what you’ve got!”
“Then what have you brung?
Some song you have sung?
Or a treebearing socket
to plug in my rocket?”
“Nay, no, I have not
brung you even a sock!
I just saw your sign
and decided to knock!.”
“Oh, I see, yes I see
that you are not McGee
Where is he, that galoomph
I invited for tea?”
“Now I’m glad you did spot
that McGee I am not
Perhaps he forgot
to stop at the shop?”
“Indeed you are wise,
like an owl in disguise!
Pardon me, but I see
that your hair is carefree!”
“It’s adventurous hair
without any cares
but I wanted to hear
about your elephant out there!”
I was getting the hang of this rhyming dialogue, quite fun it was, once you had the hang of it.
“Oh, well since you should ask,
I will lower my mask
and sing you the song
that relates to my task”.
I took a seat on a pillow of blue and cerise, encrusted with glow worms and pearls from the sea.I noticed a rainbow was forming on the ceiling above Gypsy Rain as he cleared his throat and began his version of events in tones so sweet, I had a sugar rush.
In a rare long time, far away on the foam,
where the pixies are reared and the loggerheads roam,
I lived and I thrived on wild water mel on
by the sea, near the Province of Elephantdom.
When into my care, through a misguided dare,
was an elephant gifted, yes, one that was rare!
It belonged (as they do) to the Princess of Prue
who legend has had it, descends from the moon!
Ever since, even now, to this very fine day
I am seeking and searching and finding a way
To deposit the elephant back in it’s place
Far away on the moon, with my rocket through space.
The elephant stays at a size which is small
and doesn’t she grow, no, not terribly tall
The reason for this is no motherly kiss
and without it, we doubt if she’ll grow beyond this.
Imperative is it, to fly away soon
to save her sweet life we must get to the moon.
A baby she is and a baby she’ll stay
if her mother can’t kiss her
she’ll start fading away.
And so, it’s the reason the sign’s on the door
saying “Elephants Only” as I’m hoping for
a solution, ablution, a rhyme or a clue
or a rocket that’s filled up with juice for the moon.
In truth, I have hired, MacBerry McGee
who had better come soon for his bread and his tea
In the hopes that his fireflies could speed up my rocket
by plugging them into his treebearing sockets.
And should it not happen I’m willing to do,
the only thing left that a Gypsy can do
I’ll be conducting a few serious interviews soon
with elephant mothers from both earth and the moon.
I’ll have to adopt her out to another
One of her kind with the love of a mother
An elephant elder whose kindly in spirit
Would remedy this with her elephant kisses.
- – - – - – - – - – - – -
I stayed there for dinner and met Mr McGee
and we talked and we talked and we shared over tea.
We hatched out a plan, devised by all three,
then we drew up a blueprint of ink blueberry.
It turned out McGee knew my Grandmother Millie and Great Aunty Jane,
who’d been running a secretive moon trip campaign.
It’s a small world he said as I nodded my head
and departed the room once filled only with gloom.
We affixed a balloon to the rocket in question
and powered it up with our firefly friends,
who were soon to be legends.
The elephant slept in a tent made of silk,
upon pillows of feathers on her way to the moon.
When she arrived there, the moon lit up brighter,
the stars got all twinkly and we all felt much lighter.
The elephant grew and regarded as bliss,
the love of her mother and mother’s sweet kiss.
Sometimes, late at night, just as our eyes are closing, ideas spring to life like this one. All sleepy and head on my pillow, I suddenly started imagining a sign over a door that said “Elephants Only” …knowing not where it would lead, I began to pen this little tale. I hope you enjoy it and thanks so much for reading my work! :)