The March

by Mare Leonard

The March
     Loggerhead Turtles, 150 million years old,
     can grow to be three feet, 300 lbs.

Twenty turtles hatch on Pawley’s Island
while we form military lines
on right and left, up and down the sand
to witness their march to the sea.

We hold our breath as they sway and sidle
while trained volunteers
nudge them straight with their feet.

We never touch or speak
but search for birds ready
to swoop and devour.

Near the sea the volunteers
pluck up the turtles
situate them one by one
on incoming waves

The turtles swim forward
roll back     we almost yell, Yes
when these young soldiers swim away.

Twenty loggerheads survived
basic training
chance is in charge today.

From below, from above
predators can snatch
and kill.

We imagine the swoop of a hawk
his mouth tightening around
the turtle’s head

imagine the hawk flying
to his nest, to munch
on soft flesh, tender bones.

We accept survival of the fittest
accept the inevitable,
trudge in lines back to our rentals