A Poem for World Turtle Day

by Mary Oliver:

The Turtle

breaks from the blue-black
skin of the water, dragging her shell
with its mossy scutes
across the shallows and through the rushes
and over the mudflats, to the uprise,
to the yellow sand,
to dig with her ungainly feet
a nest, and hunker there spewing
her white eggs down
into the darkness, and you think
of her patience, her fortitude,
her determination to complete
what she was born to do—-
and then you realize a greater thing—-
she doesn’t consider
what she was born to do.
She’s only filled
with an old blind wish.
It isn’t even hers but came to her
in the rain or the soft wind
which is a gate through which her life keeps walking.
She can’t see
herself apart from the rest of the world
or the world from what she must do
every spring.
Crawling up the high hill,
luminous under the sand that has packed against her skin,
she doesn’t dream
she knows
she is a part of the pond she lives in,
the tall trees are her children,
the birds that swim above her
are tied to her by an unbreakable string.


“The Turtle” from New and Selected Poems: Volume One, © 1992 by Mary Oliver – Beacon Press


Mary Oliver (1935 – ) comes from Ohio, and has won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The New York Times calls her “America’s best-selling poet.”


The photo shows a green sea turtle at San Diego Bay in California

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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