Sea Turtle

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.

18 thoughts on “Sea Turtle

    1. Thanks Sarah. I was trying to capture the rhythm of a swimming turtle. They don’t deserve the awful things humans do to them, especially as they were on this planet long before we were.

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  1. I love that you spoke for the sea turtles. Videos of the babies hatching and heading to the sea always amaze me. Like every other creature, they have a hard time going through their natural cycles. My cousin in California rescued a large tortoise who is king of their large back yard which they have adapted to provide him a safe and very turtle-y habitat. He lumbers about grandly, dips in and out of the pond, is served the choicest of fare. I love turtles’ faces, their ancient eyes and quirky smiles.

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    1. I love those films of baby turtles heading to the sea too, Sherry, and get very upset if they don’t make it for some reason. I know what you mean about their ancient eyes and quirky smiles.😊

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  2. I love turtles. I was lucky enough to see a sea turtle on the beach a few years ago. After collecting a small but socially distanced crowd, s/he made its way back into the waves. There are a lot of protected areas where they lay their eggs and no one is allowed in those, so this was a treat.

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  3. Those of us who have relationships with animals seem to have a deeper respect for all animals. Thank you for writing about the sea turtle. So sad what we do to their environment and ultimately to ours.

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  4. What do humans know about sentience? Only that humans have it, or think they do, and they alone. How wonderful to dive with these sea turtles and come ashore with them, rocked by a sea of meter and rhyme. There’s a native American belief that the world is a turtle island, we are born and borne upon her swimming back.

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