Imagine this world — followed by brief reflection

 

Can you imagine a world without elephants?
Imagine a world without people-
who-can’t-live-in-a-world-without-elephants.
Now imagine a world without people-who-can’t-
imagine-a-world-without-people-who-
can’t-imagine-a-world-
without-elephants.
Imagine a world of elephants without people-
who-can-live-in-a-world-without-elephants.
Imagine a world of people-
who-can’t-imagine-a-world-of-people-who-can’t-imagine-
elephants-without-a world.
Now imagine a world
without elephants-without-a-world.
Now imagine that world-without-elephants-without-a-world
within a world with people-who-
can-imagine-a-world-with-elephants-
without-people-who-can’t-imagine-a-world-without-elephants.
Now imagine that that world-without-elephants-without-a-world
is within a world of people-who-not-only-can-
imagine-a-world-with-elephants,
but can’t-imagine-a-world-of-people-who-can’t-imagine
elephants-without-a-world-
of-people-who-can’t-imagine-a-world-without-elephants
is this world.
Imagine this world.

Reflection: I wrote this poem as a sort of koan. I spent hours on making sure that it made convoluted sense, but the point is to get us to go into a maze of imagining, to get  lost and find our way through by trusting that the world the poet is asking us to imagine is simply a world of people that can imagine a world with elephants. I don’t think this poem can be understood by reading it straight through, even several times.

 

 

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