Photographs are moments caught, then left behind. In this photograph, at that moment, there’s so much going on. An elephant strolls by, eating a branch from a thorn bush while he wraps a stalk of grass in his trunk. Do you see his broad toenail, his scalloped ear with its large veins? Do you see the small round pebble on the top of his head, the flecks of leaves cascading down his forehead to his trunk? Do you notice the perfect fan palm in the background, the outline of a nipple upon his chest? Or is your attention focused solely on his gleaming white tusks and your furiously beating heart?
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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4 thoughts on “A Moment Caught, Then Left Behind”
I always notice their beautiful wrinkles, their huge backsides, long-lashed eyes and dextrous trunks – the exception being when I have been in the bush and waiting with pounding heart to see what that huge, dark grey shape is going to decide to do to me.
At that moment there is no leisurely inspection or appreciation of their finer points.
So true. It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it, how you can focus on a whole elephant, all at once!
Given this small sample of your writing, I can’t wait for your book!
Thank you, Katie. Most of the posts on this blog are samples of the book, if you want to read more.