The Elephant with the Bright White Toenails

The Elephant with the Bright White Toenails
Oregon Zoo, Portland

In the dust of her summer days,
trudging with the whole troop
of her adopted family
from feeding lot to waterhole
in the expanded enclosure,
swaying with measured steps
as elephants do, trunk curled up,
her large ear flaps sweeping the air
like paper fans in the hampered heat,
I see this orphan they named Chendra
as the calf she once had been,
a little girl with ponytails
and pink ribbons and party dress,
so proud of her bright white toenails.


Chendra is the only Bornean elephant living in North America.

John Delaney retired as curator of historic maps at Princeton University Library, and moved out to Port Townsend, WA. He’s traveled widely, preferring remote, natural settings, and is addicted to kayaking and hiking. In 2017, he published Waypoints (Pleasure Boat Studio, Seattle), a collection of place poems. Twenty Questions, a chapbook is out from Finishing Line Press.

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