For My Nephew Omar On His Engagement to Nadia

This small box hides a porcelain elephant
rigged up in howdah and trimmings,
a Kashmir-style sapphire
on the forehead­­ — an inner eye;

conch shell ears fan out,
supple raised trunk
cradles a bird’s nest
without breaking the eggs.

“A matriarch of her herd,”
said the woman who sold it,
“175 years old, maybe more.

Parting with this thing,
(Raj kitsch or art?)
I have long held dear
with my childhood’s faith

I have this dream
you will one day walk
like an elephant
joyously on water.

by Rafiq Kathwari, Beaver Dam, 29 October 2005