Posted in Africa, Elephants, Morula


An excerpt from my book:

Morula stands square on. Her cobbled forehead broadens from her nose upward in a triangular shape.  Her eyes are nearly hidden, tucked behind the curve of her forehead.  She raises her head to focus on me.  She’s motionless, concentrating.  I can’t even hear her breathing.

I have this odd feeling that she wants me to like her as much as I want her to like me.

I take the lens cap from my camera and glimpse a tiny reflection of myself in its mirror.  Is this what she sees – another one of those small humans, with its odd aura of scents?   Does she see details: my hat, my camera, my idiotic grin?


The top of a tree is visible over her right shoulder, as if she has a giant corsage tucked behind her ear.  Short bristles like an old man’s buzz cut outline the top of her head.

Because of the way she’s standing, ears flattened against her shoulders, Morula seems slim, her skull almost hollowed.  The tip of her trunk flops over itself in a loose coil and points straight down like a curved arrow.  It begins to twitch in an irregular rhythm.  I take a goofy photograph of Morula – like she’s bored and playing with the only thing at hand – her trunk.

Behind us, around us, for 360 degrees, the Botswana landscape surrounds us.  And neither one of us pays it a bit of attention.


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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