why do the natives cling?

on the outskirts of town
we paused at the parapet

reflecting on what we’d been told
of the badlands –

archaeologically mute,
trodden –

remains perhaps of
The Temple, East –

and decided to venture over

on poor soil
dust that clung to
worn hillocks

out of sight now
of the city –

and saw the
monstrous elephant –

charcoal against the sands

its head deliberately
rocking as though to repudiate –

and the natives –

they were dark and huddled
they clutched the
leathery coat where they could,
their legs hitched up –

limpets taken
wherever the vast beast determined –

and we wondered –

why do the natives
so faithfully cling?