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


There is a cold way of seeing that clips wings and stifles our words into faint echoes.  But there is also a way of seeing where the eye can be like a mouth, swallowing color, taking in the entire world with one choking gulp.

A rabbit has a 360º field of vision, so that it might gauge the distance between itself and its attacker.  Humans have front-facing, binocular vision.  It’s hard for us to look at where we have been and where we are going, impossible to see both the stars and the ground at once.

An elephant’s vision is front facing, binocular, but an elephant also has a large blind spot caused by its nose.  Place both hands between your eyes in the manner of prayer and you will see what I mean.

It is said that elephants will stare at a full moon; do they also see the stars?

What would it be like to think without words and recognize shapes without names?

There is a cave of light from our eye to our brain.  But it is the corners of our eyes that perceive the most light; the corners of our minds where we begin to understand.

photograph by Cheryl Merrill
photograph by Cheryl Merrill


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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