Slippery performed
and my eight-year-old
heart applauded

cheered when he escaped,
mourned the capture,
prayed for flight’s courage

but survival skills
eluded – was certain
I would starve, die

in a cave where
animals would gnaw
on my bones, and

family, unconcerned,
would sigh and say:
She’s just being Slippery.

(Slippery was the name of a sea lion who performed at a local’s children’s attraction in the 60’s.  He escaped into the Thames River and was captured again.  I can remember being torn between sorrow for him that he didn’t want to be there, and sorrow for us that he didn’t love us the way loved him.

It’s Open Link Night at dVerse, and I am also submitting this for 50 Word Thursday, Fandango’s: guess, and Ragtag Community’s prompt: slippery.)


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

44 thoughts on “Slippery”

  1. Oh — what a wonderful child’s perspective on an animal….love the name…and love the quandry the child is in…missing Slippery, sad he’s gone….but happy he’s escaped? Have you seen the movie Free Willy?

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  2. I grew up in that area, but I guess I missed this story! I felt a parallel in your words between the seal and other experiences. That need to flee …with uncertainty. You bring another dynamic into this with the idea of Slippery not loving the audience as much as they loved him. So true.

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  3. I love poems that contain stories at the heart of them. Narrative is always wonderful. That’s why I love Billy Collins!
    You managed to share this story so deftly we are all thinking about Slippery today 🙂
    Great picture too.

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  4. Your seal story in the poem reminds me of popular celebrities who like the sea lion, perform for us, but as much as we love them, they have not connection to us.


  5. As a child we see the joy received watching the performance…yet even when the animal escapes we enjoy the freedom for the animal…that young an age would definitely cause an emotional conundrum when the poor seal was recaptured. beautifully penned

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  6. + 1 thanks for this story and reminding us about the suffering of other creatures as part of the entertainment biz. I so liked that you took this in other directions – the image of your bones in the cave and your tutting family is a beauty.

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  7. Interesting focus here – I do remember this story, I think… Or maybe its a myth you planted in my being now! There is always a poignancy around animals being expected to perform.

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    1. He was the only sea lion I had ever seen, and such a character. The Thames River is the one in Ontario, if that helps spark further thoughts. Slippery was the star of Storybook Gardens.


  8. What a touching slice of memory, sweet and sad. I wonder how joyful were the days that Slippery was free. I hate seeing birds in cages too.

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  9. I love seals. They are so social and irascible. Poor Slippery. She didn’t want to be an exhibit. She wanted to be free. One of the three times I was taken to a circus, thee was a seal act. I didn’t care for it and cried. I cried at the big cats, the elephants, the horses. My parents stopped taking me after that. Then I became acquainted with seals again in San Diego. they were in the ocean. They were free. They made me laugh. A lot of nostalgia in this. A lot of wondering why the love wasn’t reciprocated with the child’s not understanding freedom.

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