Posted in Africa, Elephants, Nature, Nonfiction, Photography, Travel, Writing

Mud Wrestling


It’s a mucky, slimy, gloppy mud.  A young elephant snorkels on his side, the tip of his trunk swiveling above the surface, as he slides towards the other elephant, a brother or cousin.  His days are filled with heat and dust.  It’s winter in Botswana, the sun is relentless, and mud will soothe his scorched skin.  He lifts his head from the muck, curls his trunk and closes his eyes.  This feels good, his body language says, this feels really good.    

If we could imagine ourselves weighing four tons and think of gravity’s effect on those four tons, then maybe we could imagine wallowing in such mud, pushing and shoving like giant sumo wrestlers, reveling and rolling in the sheer pleasure of warm gunk.  We would inhale a slimy trunk-full of ooze, squirt it like a water gun in any direction, even at each other.  We would rub our eyes clear with a curled fist at the end of our trunks.  We would arise glistening and bright as a metallic statue.  We would be cooled, refreshed, gigantic, gentle beings. . . . if we could imagine such a thing.


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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