January 2, 2009

The Sea Turtle

A Poem by David Soulby

She will not look up, not yet:
There is too much to do.
Across and above the surrounding beach
Gulls wheel, pivoting on wingtips
Over restless waves.

Crashing surf propels her,
Pushing her to heated sand.
She responds to generations,
One hundred million linked together
Year over year.

Neck cords stretched, parrot beak gaping,
She struggles against this grainy stuff.
Far easier, water, cool and inky,
Where she sails and dives at will.
Not so here

Under the blazed sky, the sun
Bakes her back. Bones under the shell
Feel the slow torment. She must hurry,
Push these flailing legs onward:
She is not done.

Her shell scrapes the stones, and her claws,
Splayed and hard, sweep the grains.
Inch by inch, she wills herself along
Until she discovers that special place
True to her.

Behind and beyond, in near and far spaces
Children gather shells, crack into buckets
Stuff of stars, squeal when they meet
The scuttling crab, dance to scatter
The regarding gulls.

Beyond, hunched and encroaching, the gates
Consume it raw, the belly
Bends and twists the iron, the stacks
Shove smoke skyward, and the drains
Void the waste.

Behind the gulls, stabbing the blue,
Electrons squeal, data screams.
Costs and purchases, shares and deals
Shriek across the horizon, binding the skies
For this time.

Her eyes blink and glitter,
A tiny sun pinned in each black.
Against the odds, she gains the appointed space,
Pushes her old rump into the hot, receiving earth,
And begins.

Her head sweeps back and forth;
She gathers up the landscape,
Edge of rock and water, embracing ages,
Whole populations rising and dwindling
To here and now.

Armies and children, joys and scourges –
These do not find their way
Behind her eyes. Light and water,
Time and heat, instinct and discipline
Guide her here.

She works now under circling gulls.
Sand will not reveal the destroyer,
Eggs scattered and exposed. Sky will not say
Which beak will pierce which infant.
She must lay sufficient.

Under the watching world, she withdraws,
Covers the clutch, heaves herself downward
To the sea. She will never see these children,
Nor know whether it will be three, or two,
Or one only

Who pulls itself from its shell
Who scrabbles across sand and avoids diving birds
Who gains the receiving depths
Who survives the predatory onslaught
Who grows and mates and feels then the purpose
Who crawls upon this beach
One hundred million and one
Returning her ancient promise.


Photo Credit Sea Turtle Tracks
Photo Credit Sea Turtle Hatchling Tracks
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