Adventures with Animals in my Careless Youth

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“No, no, no,” I said, “I can’t”
ride upon that elephant.
The creature lowered to one knee,
leg bent to make a step for me,
and seconds later, I was in air.
Was it courage or a dare?

Each  leg gripped on a massive shoulder,
balanced on that giant boulder
of a back, somewhat nonplussed
as his handler swore and  cussed
to not take down that massive tree
so long as he was bearing me!

Whereupon, once told “You can’t,”
this timber-working elephant
turned to descend the river bank.
I gave the rope a mighty yank.
(That was all I had to hold
as this leviathan grew bold,

intent on giving me a bath.)
His trainer ran to bar his path
and none to soon, in my opinion,
relieved this mammoth of his minion.
Soon after we had said adieu,
I faced adventures that were new.

It’s hard to see what I had there
around my neck, beneath my hair.
That snake wrapped loosely around me
hung writhing down below my knee.
I blew the pungi, hoping harm
would be abated by its charm.

What possessed me, I don’t know,
to agree to this viper show.
I wasn’t squeezed, I wasn’t bitten.
The snake was docile as a kitten.
I was a foolish girl back then.
What wild adventures way back when.


I’m pretty sure this is a python around my neck. I don’t think I would have been foolish enough to drape myself in a cobra, still, his owner had a pungi, which is what snake charmers use, usually to “charm” vipers or cobras. (Actually, it is the motion of the instrument, not its sound that weaves the spell.) I had on a top that was perfect camouflage  for the reptile. Both of these photos were taken in Sri Lanka in 1973.

12 thoughts on “Adventures with Animals in my Careless Youth

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Mihran. I was looking throught an old album for illustrations for another poem and came across these. Fun looking through old photos and sharing them. Happy New Year.


    1. lifelessons Post author

      Ew… brave to my eyes! If you live in a place that has lots of poisonous snakes, I can understand your abhorrence. The only poisonous snakes in South Dakota, where I grew up, were rattlesnakes and with the exception when there was a great rattlesnake migration from the bluffs north of town to regions south, where the town was right on their path, I never saw a snake in town.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Marilyn Armstrong

    I did all of that stuff too. I didn’t much like the camel … a very strange creature to ride, but I kind of liked the elephant. Though Garry is terrified of snakes, I kind of like them, as long as they aren’t poison. But for me, NO bugs. NO no no.

    More dangerous were probably some of the mobbed up guys I met along my way through life. I’m pretty sure the animals weren’t out to get me … but i can’t say the same for the guys.

    Liked by 1 person


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