Friday, April 2, 2010

Red-Eared Turtles

April PAD—Water

The red-eared pond turtles strain their necks
and bang into the glass with voracious desperation
harboring an unassuageable hunger;
do they know I'm not their owner
but their keeper for the next two weeks?
They try to reach me,
telling me in their turtle ways
that it's time to eat. But I tell them
they must wait two more days
before I slip dried worms and fish tidbits
into their murky pond.
The cats watch, plot their next move,
stretch and yawn, as if indifferent.
But the turtles don't seem to notice them—
fast moving mammals.
They have eyes only the tall upright ones,
the shadowy feeders.
They watch me intently with their striped reptile eyes
swiveling and turning
as if to comprehend my nonsense speech.
Press their nostrils
to the side of the tank closest to me.
Or maybe it's my ham sandwich
or the cat treats they're eyeing.
I turn on their heat lamp
and they get as close as they can
to bask in the warmth.
Noses pointing skyward like stargazers,
they settle in.
I marvel at their vermillion cranial ear markings,
the intricate camouflage patterns
of yellow and olive stripes,
as they splay their webbed feet,
and thrash over boulders,
long slender toenails,
translucent as new moons—
thinking maybe distance
between reptile and human
is not so very far, after all.

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