Turtle Release

Posted on 13 February 2010

All along the retaining wall that runs along the highway
lies a ditch draining into the reservoir. I look for the lost
tumbleweeds sunning themselves in the gully there,
seemingly bored by all the highway traffic veering off
the exit ramp, spilling into the subdivision, and taking respite
among the punching bags, guns, and cable TV.
The tumbleweeds huddle, upset about the brush fires
coming in the summer. They begin to pray for rain.
I have seen them in a line, all hollow in the middle
as the wind blows through them and up over the roofs
of the houses into the gyres the red-tails abide.
I follow them overhead as they advertise
their silhouettes in the sky–my favorite distractions.
I can almost keep up with the variety of nicks in my
attention span, the regimen of crafty surprises,
the speed of the many screens flashing their signals at me.
I am a consumer of tempting imagery, my desire for
every color measured while I hope, like a dog dreaming of
the dishwasher door opening, that some incredible bounty
will be laid out in front of me. I prepare myself for
the vista beyond the retaining wall. I stand on
the embankment above the reservoir and
glare through the chain-link fence at my reflection
in the water–last summer no turtles there.
For sure, the time has come to hop this fence at midnight
with a flashlight, spirit of the spring equinox guiding me,
and release a few quarantined pond turtles back into
their native drink. Plop they go to gather together
and prosper in the California mud. With my neighbors
I will watch them basking in August, perched upon
gray rocks. They will serve as a focal point
for our calm, a prayer gong sounding on the plains.
We will go there to be captured by slowness.
Let those who deliver the fates of the tumbleweeds,
who’ve come for the imagined days ahead,
let them know that even in the suburbs
there are different endings possible,
different paths down to the reservoir
where a face can shine back at the moon.

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