Posted in Africa, Elephants, Morula, Nonfiction, Photography, Pleistocene

Footprints

Footprints

Our feet anchor us to the ground.  Just as my Pleistocene ancestors could read the tracks of mastodons, so I now gaze down at an elephant’s prints in the dust.  Her back feet are oval and her front feet round.  City slicker that I am, even I can tell the direction she is going.

 The sand beneath our feet  is the color of a lion’s coat, studded with brittle leaf litter.  Morula walks through it without making a sound.  Shock-absorbing pads on the soles of her feet cushion each footstep, smother crushed leaves.

I step on a dry leaf and it crackles into powder.

The brand name of my boots imprints within the outline of my soles; a clever advertisement made with each step.  All of my weight concentrates in two small points of contact with the earth, so I make deeper impressions than Morula’s footprints.  Each one of my steps applies more pressure per square inch; Morula’s weight spreads over four large footpads the size of a medium pizza pan.

She can step on a snake and not kill it.

Morula lifts her foot and grains of sand roll down slope into the crater of her footprint.

Following two paths, the one beneath her feet and the one in her mind, Morula strolls on.  Dust rises, a half shadow that marks her passage, before it collapses again to the ground.

There is a before and an after to each moment of our lives, paths we follow and paths we do not.

Author:

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.

11 thoughts on “Footprints

  1. I am drawn to the implied grace. Delicate giants. Your writing gives voice to sounds and movements I’d not otherwise encounter. Keep sharing what you know about elephants, my world is richer for it.

  2. Lovely light read, Cheryl. May we imitate Morula by, walking lightly upon the earth, leaving only soft footprints in the sands of time. Hugs

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