There is a lake near my house I passed by every day on my way to work and back home. One day I saw a huge turtle trying to cross the road toward the lake’s edge and witnessed the following:
He inches in measured movement across the hot dry pavement
of the highway on a dangerous journey.
Soft unprotected head leads, beaded eyes focusing on a point ahead.
Angled legs splay out in arcs carrying the hard patterned shell along for the ride.
One lane conquered, he plods ahead unaware of imminent danger.
Suddenly metal swerves to avoid the obstacle, slows, and rescue comes.
A young man leaves his car, the woman remaining inside her own shell of protectiveness.
He runs to retrieve, grabs, lifts, holding arms straight out in front of him for his own safety.
The turtle now swims frantically in air, legs moving in agitated rhythm, and powerful
jaws open and snap together, cutting into the afternoon air.
The man sets him down on the first soft spot of sand he sees at the edge of the road.
Toes grip gritty grains as the turtle moves slowly into marshy reeds along the lake’s edge.
The journey is only partially over, his destination unknown.
Danger may lurk near him still.
The young man brushes his hands together, swipes them across his jeans,
and smiling in relief and self-satisfaction, returns to his own shell.
He too continues a risky journey of life,
© Barbara Flass 2003