This piece has been updated. It was originally posted May 23, 2018.
May 23rd is World Turtle Day, which was founded in 1990 and is sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue.
Mary Oliver (1935-2019 ) prolific American poet who was born in Ohio, and won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The New York Times called her “America’s best-selling poet.”
To read Mary Oliver’s poem “The Turtle” click
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
Crawling up the high hill,
luminous under the sand that has packed against her skin,
she doesn’t dream
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.