Under the mango sun of dry-season Thailand, you visit an elephant zoo. One hundred hospitalized gray bodies are dressed in white-bandages, shadows reaching where phantom toes once landed. Scars splay across wrinkled skin like continents on a globe, coastlines pink and puckered.
In the 99-degree sun, the healed elephants perform tricks. They rear and wriggle their wrinkled trunks while in the shade, you and the other tourists clap. Caretakers are dressed in blue robes, blue slippers. They speak the elephants’ language: nine feet up, nestled on scars behind small flapping ears, they nudge, they whisper.
The stories are all the same: a Vietnam landmine buried in the soft loam of the jungle, waiting. An elephant working with the logs takes a lumbering step, soil compressing under his six-ton weight—a burst, a boom. Landmines forgotten long after the war, but the elephants never forget.