Grand Prize Winner—2015 ICC Poetry Contest
Joyce Odam’s poem, “White Elephant,” won first prize in the Love category, judged by Joseph O. Legaspi, and was then selected from all 24 prize winners for the Grand Prize by M.B. McLatchey, who writes: 

“In what is apparently the telling of a caretaker’s love for an animal, this poem calls up the varieties of love that we feel as human beings—a parent’s love for a child; a physician’s love for a patient; a child’s love for an  elder. And it explores these various loves in verse lines so carefully measured out so as to hold us in a balance of yearning and acceptance that imitates life itself. This is a brilliantly executed poem about the complex and sometimes clumsy nature of enduring love.”

WHITE ELEPHANT                                 —by Joyce Odam

Chinese School (19th Century)
Chinese Washing a White Elephant, c. 1800

Grown too large now for our care,
we struggle to retain
our scale of love

as when
it was a tiny,
new-born thing

that we
adored—a live toy—
exotic as a fable-creature,

fabulous and dear.
It loved us too, gazed at us
fondly, trusting itself to our keeping.

Now it is
house-broken, huge,
though still of delicate behavior.

Our laps
too small to hold it now,
it grows bewildered, mopes,

and leaves its sad looks
everywhere. What now, we ask
ourselves in our confusion and despair?