I’ve been around for millions of years
and shared the Earth with dinosaurs,
who are extinct. You may think me slow,
but in the ocean, watch me go,
gracefully swimming (it beggars your belief)
among swaying seagrass and coral reefs.
I come ashore to the same beach to rest,
to bask and sometimes dig a nest
after decades of waiting to reproduce
and lay my eggs in the coolness
of the sand. We can live to four hundred years old
and yet our plight leaves many humans cold:
they slaughter us for eggs and meat,
our skins and shells, and cause our deaths
with plastic bags and fishing gear,
destroy our habitat year on year,
and their effect on climate has us vexed,
it alters sand temperatures and our sex,
while we do our best to keep
marine life healthy in the deep.
Kim M. Russell, 4th January 2021
My response to earthweal weekly challenge: When Animals Speak
This Monday, Sherry Marr has been inspired by a book called Animalkind – Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion which, she tells us, tells all manner of creatures, for example, chimpanzees who defeat college students in computer games, and a horse trained to choose among various symbols to indicate whether he would like his blanket off or on, or would like a snack.
She also explores another book she has been reading about the elephant whisperer Lawrence Anthony, which really spoke to me as I love elephants and have written a couple of poems about them.
As an animal lover who lives with two cats, both with their individual personalities and ways of communicating with each other and with us, I have enjoyed thinking through the possible ways of approaching Sherry’s prompt. She challenges us to speak for animals, or let the animals speak, by writing about wildlife refuges, the need for them and the challenges; choosing an animal and writing a poem in its voice as a non-human being, exploring its song, what it loves, fears or needs, and the impact the climate crisis has on impact it.