Mrs. Turtle travels up again from the stream

by Judy Kaber

I don’t know why she comes. Eggs
already laid and yet, she keeps pulling
her heavy body over the dry rocks

to rest finally on the small flower bed
beside the garage door where I’ve struggled
to get anything to bloom. What does she weigh

when she chooses a spot to rest, to collect
the sun and let it seep into her blood? Can she
understand that there is no safety here?

I take pictures, consider reasons,
try to sort through the wet threads
of her thinking. Once alone, she responds

by stretching her neck around the corner, then
pulls in her head when she sees me staring.
I cannot see her chest heave, curved bones of ribs

stuck to her rigid shell. Instead she contracts her limbs,
humps her shoulders to exhale and no doubt
worries less than me about the future, her only need

to complete the cycle, to feed, to lay beneath the mud
while pockets in her cloaca and mouth give her air.

Lacking carapace, I feel fragile, bereft,
confined to this wooden gallery for safety,
yet longing to open like leaves beneath water.