Poem By Chuck Toll
Seal, our son’s stuffed animal,
Lies in the passenger’s seat
Awaiting his release from school.
Purchased nearly a decade ago
As a fluffy white newborn pup
In a California Sea World shop,
Seal has long since turned gray
With age and travels. Whiskers
He arrived with have worn away,
But he’s kept his eyes and nose,
Though all are scratched and
Have been re-glued several times.
Seal looks on with wise passivity,
Saving his strength for whatever
Lies in store when school is over.
He’s an experienced campaigner,
Durable, prepared for anything
And dependable as they come.
Over time, his travels and travails
Have certainly matched those of
His sea-spanning counterparts;
He has camped on Baja beaches,
Grown sodden in Niagra’s mists
Explored Grand Canyon trails.
He has traveled coast to coast
In cars, trucks, planes and trains,
Sampling motels and desert sites.
Seal eats with us, sleeps with us,
Hunts evil warriors or space aliens
In the dark corridors of video games.
He has been carried, toted, dragged,
Biked and driven. He’s watched movies,
Music lessons and wrestling matches.
Seal has shown awesome durability
In hundreds of washings to remove
Spaghetti sauce and playground dirt.
Two years ago, Seal spent some time
As a Secret Friend, always present
But often hidden and not on display.
Then our boy outgrew some doubts
And decided it was okay for peers to
Know he liked spinach, preferred pink,
And, most important, had a special pet.
Love me, love my Seal, he decided.
So Seal re-emerged, forgiving as ever.
Over his years as boon companion
Seal’s accomplishments are legion:
Consoler when parents don’t understand;
Kindred spirit on tedious adult outings;
Comforter in sickness (emergency hanky) :
Nighttime guardian, back-up pillow;
Empathetic always; understanding ever,
Even when employed as a projectile;
Reliably agreeable, never saying no.
Drier of a decade’s worth of tears;
Celebrant of victories large and small;
Silent, eloquent model of good behavior.
If people can display old game balls,
Trophies and photos on mantles as
Memorials to their own past victories,
How much more will Seal deserve
To reside in some prominent place
That honors all he has done and been-
A place where he can gaze down
With scratched but gentle agate eyes
And continue his talismanic role,
Binding past to present and present
To future by his strength and presence.
And, who knows, perhaps some day
The small hand of a child of a child
May stretch upward to Seal to send
The whole cycle round again.