By Linda Ferguson
I enticed the elephants inside with spaghetti.
I still smile when I picture how they scooped up the strands of pasta and swung it around, their trunks turning like the blades of a ceiling fan. Spaghetti actually landed on the ceiling fan and hung there like fat, gummy cobwebs or faded party streamers.
On sunlit afternoons I blew iridescent bubbles, which they caught on the tips of their trunks. In the evenings I read stories aloud and did all the voices – the satin-shoed ballerina who kept sliding off the circus elephant’s back made them laugh, while the hyena who hunted moonless savannas sent delicious shivers under my friends’ weathered skins.
Oh, how eager I was back then. I even learned to juggle, first with tangerines and then with ripe tomatoes. Still, I wanted to do more for my new friends, so when the one I called Auntie swished her tail to say the herd had a yen for popsicles, I bought armfuls of variety packs – strawberry, orange, coconut, grape and lime.
Like a Victorian gentleman come courting with tulips and jonquils, I offered a bouquet of popsicles to the elephants. But they, absorbed by some game or private council, stood in a circle, their heads facing in, while a rainbow of juices dripped from my fingers.
They left not long after that, filing out of the house without so much as a flap of an ear. By then I’d filled the rooms with heavy silences – a habit from childhood when my brothers took off down a forest path and left me at home stroking the synthetic hair on my doll’s heads.
At first, there was a shock of stillness, like when a movie ends and I immediately want to fall into another one. But lately I’ve spied a lion lounging beneath the aspens out back, and I’m experimenting with a recipe for a sundried tomato quiche. Perhaps I’ll also make my parlor more habitable by filling it with urns of tall, tawny grass. It’s alright if that goes nowhere. The elephants’ melted popsicles left intricate stains on my carpet, and every day I’m absorbed by all the new patterns to trace and explore.
Linda Ferguson has won awards for her poetry and lyrical nonfiction and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for both fiction and poetry. Her poetry chapbook, Baila Conmigo, was published by Dancing Girl Press. As a writing teacher, she aims to help students find their voice and explore new territory.