A Life Lived in Black and White

December 18, 2017

In icy Icelandic waters I was born

Green glass, azure blue, gunmetal gray,
Choppy, smooth, white-capped waters
I cruised at my mother’s side
A hundred miles a day
We hunted, we played, we were family
We were regal
I was orcinus orca


Brutality, horror, violence
Plucked from kin, pod, and home
In a bathtub of torture I existed
Behind green glass in a turquoise puddle
Locked in a box with strangers
We circled, we paced, we fought
We were trapped
I was Tilikum


I snapped and was blinded by agony
Confused raging, kinetic fury
Making my own churning sea
The first one slipped and fell in
The second one was an intruder
The third one was my friend
I was killer whale


Alone, isolated, hated,
Feared and misunderstood
At night behind glass and gates
I dreamed
Of open waters, dark and deep
Of totems with my image
Of ancient relics and reverence
I was blackfish


Even though my name meant tribe
I did not have one
Even though I lived at Sea World
I was stripped from the sea that
Had been my world
My name was Tilikum
And now I am free


For “Tilly” Tilikum 1983 – January 6, 2017

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