Sunday, April 6, 2008

Love Letters from Lil

Perhaps you too have an older relative

who has mastered the inner workings

of the Internet in a way that necessitates

forwarding every e-mail she receives

to every address on her contact list.

Mine is Cousin Lil, my mother’s cousin.

And I am blessed to count myself

among her contacts.


Some days, while on-line,

I can see them coming,

like an avalanche they fall

through the ether

straight into my inbox.

The same moniker repeating…

Lillycoo

Lillycoo

Lillycoo


I’m especially mystified by those bold

messages that threaten some manner of

cosmic misfortune if they are not forwarded

to at least ten people in the next twenty seconds.

And then there is the alarmist variety,

like the one that offers instructions on

what to do if someone kidnaps you by

locking you in the trunk of a car and

driving off (punch out a taillight and wave

your arm frantically through the hole).

Cousin Lil forwards them all.


I must confess that I’ve begun to delete

these communiqu├ęs from Lillycoo,

oftentimes unread and unopened.

But yesterday was a slow a day.

Lil’s subject line read:

“the most amazing video ever.”

I double-clicked it.

A frozen frame appeared behind

the familiar right-pointing triangle,

that universal symbol for Play.


YouTube.

How much do you love it?

Isn’t it the greatest thing since…

Cell phones?

The telegram?

Smoke signals?


I clicked on the triangle.


In the video, a man leads an elephant

to an easel near a group of onlookers.

He places a narrow paintbrush into the grip

of the creature’s nimble trunk.

I watch as the elephant begins to paint

a most astonishing portrait

of an elephant holding a flower.


Later, over dinner, I describe all this

to my husband who says, “Elephants

are very intelligent animals. They are

even known to mourn their dead.”

I ponder this a moment, wondering

if that artful creature might have been

painting a particular elephant.

Perhaps a cousin.