Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What the Turtles Taught Me

That summer in Costa Rica
we saw a leatherback taken by a fishing boat.
We stood back
and did not judge the fishermen in their poverty
as they hauled the giant reptilian form from the water--
at the same time, we ran shouting down the beach
helpless to intervene
beyond the breakers.

One moonless night a female came ashore
to deposit her clutch. We obeyed the injunctions,
do not disturb laying turtles. At the same time,
we trained our flashlights with voyeuristic intensity
on the scaly flippers scooping sand, and then
the soft-shelled eggs as they slipped one by one
from the darkness of her cloaca
to the dark hole where she would bury them.

On an afternoon when a clutch hatched
we, like good biologists, let nature take its course,
the weak ones perish. At the same time
we threw stones at hungry seagulls
and carried the weakest hatchling oh so carefully to the water's edge
where it could swim safely away.

She will come back.
She will find her way across thousands of miles of open ocean
and never doubt that she is in the right place
or what is the right thing to do.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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