Matt Merritt



The elephant in the room

is an elephant. Far from ignoring it,
we are trying to recall exactly how it snuck in here,
how long we have before it strips the house-plants,

hose-pipes its trunk to one of the bath-taps
to satisfy its extraordinary demands, or turns the furniture to kindling
with us still on it. Of course! This whole ramshackle edifice

must have been built around its great grey bulk.
Did I say grey? It does tends toward
a textbook shade, but occasionally colours

pink or white, depending on the progress of the evening,
the quality of the light. Every knock on the door these days
seems to be a dung beetle, but even they

are beginning to doubt their ability to keep pace
with production. The creature turns one huge, deaf ear
to their mutterings, tunes the other in to every conversation

and later joins the ongoing debate as a vigorous advocate
of its own highly structured and stable social order.
It is unafraid to trumpet its kind’s many virtues

but has been known to settle for the sotto voce denigration
of hippopotami and all their works. In this current state,
a periodic outbreak of vicious, indiscriminate

but carefully rationalized rage known as musth, it fears nothing
­– not mouse, nor man, nor umbrella stand. To banish it
to the far savannah of your conscious mind and pray

for the thunder of ivory-smugglers’ guns might feel like the only
viable strategy, but it has already weighed your worth
and found you wanting. Don’t expect it will ever forget.




Matt Merritt is a poet and wildlife journalist from Leicester. His third collection, The Elephant Tests is out now from Nine Arches Press. He blogs at

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