Posted in Africa, Nature, Photography

Bombs Away

Sausage tree b&w
photograph by Cheryl Merrill

 

Vervet monkeys chatter to each other as they jump along the branches of a Sausage tree over my head. I look up. The monkeys peer down through the tree’s large, leathery leaves. Small bits of dead flowers rain down. Brown eyes in the middle of narrow black faces stare back at me.

They wouldn’t, would they?

Last night, without any aid from the monkeys, the tree dropped a bomb next to my tent. At two feet long, six inches in diameter, and weighing nine pounds, one of the fruits dangling deli-style from the Sausage tree made quite an impressive WHUMMP! when it hit the sand. I wonder about the motives of the potential bombardiers overhead.

Light-gray thin bodies dart from branch to branch. The monkeys stop and stare, stop and stare. The bombardiers look as if they wear black oxygen masks and gray flight coats with white ruffs.

More bits of flowers and leaves rain down.

photograph by Cheryl Merrill
photograph by Cheryl Merrill

Livingston camped beneath a Sausage Tree right before he discovered Victoria Falls. What if its fruit had bonked him in the head? Stanley might have searched in vain for the famous explorer and never uttered, “Livingston, I presume?”

And what would have happened if that relentless experimenter, Isaac Newton, had been beaned with a sausage fruit instead of an apple? Would we still have the theory of gravity?

I bet that we would. After recovering from a concussion, Newton would have gone right ahead and figured out his equations. After all, this was the guy who stabbed his eye with a needle just to see what would happen.

The Vervet monkeys tire of watching me and settle higher in the tree. Thanks to the restraint of my overhead companions, I’m able to continue on without incident.

photograph by Cheryl Merrill
photograph by Cheryl Merrill

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.

4 thoughts on “Bombs Away

  1. These guys unzipped and entered our tent one time – total vandals! I had packed in papers to correct and one of them was returned to the student with monkey shit stains as well as my apologies.

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