Posted in Africa, Elephants, Thembi, Uncategorized


An excerpt from my book:

With a low throaty rumble MmmmRRRRRrrrrrr, his own elephant greeting, Doug slips under Thembi’s jaw and stands by her side.  He reaches up and strokes the skin just in front of her ear.

“Steady, Thembi,” he says, “you’re a pretty girl, aren’t you Thembi?”  He pronounces her

Doug & Thembi

name “Tem-bee.”

She nods Yes.  Later I will learn Thembi always nods Yes at the word “pretty.”  But she is a beautiful elephant, all her proportions flawless.  And Thembi knows she is pretty.  She holds herself perfectly still in half-profile, the way beautiful women do all over the world when under regard by an admiring eye.

But her pose does not last long.  She turns her attention to a pile of mopane branches.  She picks up a single branch, strips its bark and stuffs the curled peelings into her mouth.  Thembi is after the sweet, green inner bark of the smaller branches.  Dessert first, the main course later.


Cheryl Merrill’s essays have been published in Fourth Genre, Pilgrimage, Brevity, Seems, South Loop Review, Ghoti, Alaska Quarterly Review, Adventum and Isotope. “Singing Like Yma Sumac” was selected for the Best of Brevity 2005 and Creative Nonfiction #27. It was also included in the anthology Short Takes: Model Essays for Composition, 10th Edition. Another essay, “Trunk,” was chosen for Special Mention in Pushcart 2008. She is currently working on a book about elephants: Larger than Life: Living in the Shadows of Elephants.

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