I keep recalling something I saw
on tv recently, part of a documentary
on African wildlife:
a new-born elephant
struggling to his feet
kept dropping to his knees;
apparently there hadn't been
space in the womb for him
to extend his front legs,
so they doubled back on
themselves, and couldn't
support him after his birth,
when he tried to stand.

The calf's mother and sister tried
to help him up, but every time he made
an effort, his knees buckled,
a matter of life and death,
for he was born while the herd
was passing through a desolate area,
with scarce food, and no water,
and so had to keep moving.

When the herd departed, the mother
stayed behind, then the calf's sister
turned around, and rejoined her family:
day's end brought grim prospects,
with the calf unable to stand
and suckle; what a long night
the baby's first night must've been!
At dawn, with maternal and
sisterly encouragement,
the calf tried again—
this time, his legs held, and
he was finally able to nurse.

What incredible determination!
That do-or-die spirit gives me hope
that those of us with frailties of our own—
not necessarily physical-—
may discover, in ourselves,
if we look deeply enough,
the same brave heart
that beats
in a baby elephant