The Singing Tortoise

By An Unknown Contributor

tortoise singing


“It is man who forces himself on things,

not things which force themselves on him.”

The turtle’s song from a West African fairy tale.

I come upon a modest turtle in the woods

on a smooth stone warmed by the sun,

singing praises to her circumstance.

Her clear notes fall into the cool water

of the nearby brook and carry her secret

deep into the eternity of the dark forest.

She sees me peering, behind a fern,

pauses in mid-verse, silently staring

at me with red, reptilian eyes.

I desperately want to document

this natural miracle and gently prop

my phone against a tree and wait.

We stare. I do not speak. I settle in.

We sit in silence long into the afternoon.

At dusk, she retreats into her shell.

I sit by the light of the moon. Phone on,

awake all night while the battery dies. At dawn

she pokes her head out to observe me, in defeat.

I sit, exhausted, by the gurgling brook.

A dragonfly lands on her shell.

And as I drift off to sleep

I hear her tiny voice, un-captured,

singing, quietly, again enraptured.


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