local_library The Logging Elephants

by Nicole Persun

Published in Issue No. 249 ~ February, 2018

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.

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Nicole J. Persun started her professional writing career at age sixteen, when Booktrope Editions published her novel A Kingdom’s Possession. Her second novel, Dead of Knight, won Gold in Foreword Magazine’s 2013 Book of the Year Awards. Aside from novels, Nicole has had short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and essays published in a handful of literary journals. With a Master’s in Creative Writing, Nicole lives in Washington State.