Hills Like Bone Elephants by Wesley D. Gray

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Narrated by Wesley D. Gray

Hills Like Bone Elephants by Wesley D. Gray
Illustration by Sue Babcock
There are hills like bone elephants
cresting across a feverish pink skyline in pallid waves,
and river veins like desiccated fingers, 
erratic like the crow tracks of feral lightning 
that ran through your bloodshot eyes when last we met,

I do recall, in the ash-mud streets on that slick and stormy day,
while we swarmed into the burrows of subway cathedrals
to save us from the hungers of acidic rains
and the whispers of changeling debris,

and as you shivered beneath my arm 
like a blood-drenched bird
tucked inside a feathered palm, 
I told you not to worry 
because it was only a storm,

and the leg-less priest with the bleeding sax
winked at you in an explosion of kaleidoscope flecks
and played a song I knew was just for you, 
a tune that conjured lust cascading
into long steamy summers and dragonfruit wine, 
and for just a moment we felt liberated 
from the damning jaws of impending strangulation.

We didn't know then what was to become of those tunnels, 
the crawlers, and the dominion that birthed them,

how the sky would forge a new axis
and the ground would open its throat above us,

how the wind would soon speak the language of our ancient names
and the rains would call us home, 

how the lightning would crackle like sex
and the thunder would swallow us in its passion.

We didn't know how I'd be left to the company of these hills like bone elephants, 
with crags carved that mirror your eyes in that moment just before it happened,
and how a distant storm still sings these whispers of you; 

we didn't know how life would end, 
how the cities would boil and rot and split like sundered hearts, 
and how all I would see, 
tunnel-visioned in that moment you were ripped from me, 
with your hair floating about your face 
like scarlet doves, 
your eyes wide and wet 
like bloated toads,

was a child's memory 
of a drowned swan, 
naked and drenched,
dredged from the banks 
of a graying autumn marsh.

BIO: Wesley D. Gray is a writer, an author of fiction, and a poet. He is the author of the chapbook
Come Fly with Death: Poems Inspired by the Artwork of Zdzislaw Beksinski, among other things. When he isn’t writing, Wesley enjoys a wide variety of geeky activities, but mostly, tabletop gaming with family and friends. He resides in Florida with his wife and two children. Learn more at: WesDGray.com.