A black pupil and topaz iris stares down at you. A rim of white circles both of his irises, a condition known in humans as Arcus senilis, commonly appearing in the elderly as a result of elevated cholesterol. The condition is noted in older Asian elephants, but no similar survey exists for African elephants. In humans the white ring is caused by low eye pressure. Since this is a young elephant, perhaps that’s what causes the rings around his eyes. Or maybe not; no one knows.
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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.