In the tight confines of a cement enclosure; a dolphin
swam a repeated pattern of circles. It was twilight and she was alone
in the tank.
Earlier that day, she had performed her tricks for the people that
flocked to see her; and though this provided her with some faintly
pleasing form of diversion, it did not preclude the forced isolation
she experienced daily, away from her pod and her family.
Later that afternoon, her attendants had arrived and conducted their
usual set of tests on her. She had yielded meekly enough to their
ministrations. This pleased them, as it always did; they took such
delight from the most meager of her offerings. But, if she did not
submit to them in a humble manner, they assumed there was a problem;
and as a result, they would order more undesirable tests be done.
She submerged and gazed through the heavy-plated window in the cement
wall of her aquarium. Maintenance lights pulsed and glowed in the
now-dark observatory room. During the day, visitors crowded together in this lower level viewing
room. They all wanted to catch a glimpse of her from an underwater
perspective. And the glass was muddy with the hand prints of the many
children who had pressed close to get a good view.
The routine of her days rarely varied. Sometimes the trainers would
come in to teach her new tricks, to be added to her show. Other times,
on rare occasion, humans would bring their ailing and disabled children
to swim in the water with her. And she would heal them, over time. But
she would do so only by tempering the process--slowing it down--so as
not to reveal too astounding an ability to the humans. A family might
have to make several return trips, for the dolphin to fully heal their
She swam up to the surface; then gazed dispassionately at the stars in the firmament above her.
She was far from her pod; and she was lonely.
She swam a few more laps, then stopped.
In the dark of her enclosure; she sang . . .
But none of her kind heard her.
Copyright 2005 by Kathy Pippig Harris