Tungsten in the Crosshairs - Ash Dickinson

found an elephant skull at the foot of the garden

beyond the radishes and cabbages

a bull male, disembodied, discarded

stripped of flesh and bulk a bleach-white bulb so I dug a deep hole- to plant an elephant


pack terra firma firmly

over pachyderm- and pat

water liberally- torrents

that relieve the Serengeti

of its aridity give life to

parched mammalian bone


poachers came by increasingly

trampled the hydrangeas

unsettled the rockery rested rifles against the trunk

of a gnarled oak struck matches against its skin

surveyed the shoots emerging

from ripening earth as they smoked

rows and rows of carrot tails

embryonic trunked-fronts waiting on a harvest of elephants for unbroken days of sun


I let them roam, competitors

for a prize marrow watched them salivate, seeing

each elephant grow into a potential best in show


they called my garden ‘L’Eden Blanc’

White Eden sensed, heady as blossom a downpour to end all drought but these tusks would not be ivory

these tusks were tungsten

I righted the panda, added a wider diet

lust to its lustre, sometimes nature

needs a helping hand, to take a stand

or bat away the death-grip of man


the look on the face of the first poacher to notice! he tapped, stunned, the arm of the man closest

pointed to the glint of gun-metal aimed at his slight, sunken chest sixty barrels breaking topsoil shanty towns packed up in minutes I spent the next two hours combing out footprints collecting up cigarette butts from the gazebo


one terrible morning I’d come to see tungsten was coveted elsewhere- darts players

woken by foreboding jangling- Bobby George’s bling rattling by my window- I pulled back the curtains to see Michael Van Gerwen aiming a blunderbuss at the herd his accuracy, tragically, unerring


I dressed, heavy hearted hauled my body down the hall past vast aquaria of polar bears

stopping at the last, in order to watch two females force water

through gills, turn and spin like gymnasts loitered until my spirits lifted nearly new

then turned on my heels, spun like them

began work on elephants: mark II