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Turtles

When I was a kid I al­ways used to be fas­ci­nated with tur­tles.
I was al­ways in­trigued by their shells;
I never knew quite how they tied into the whole sce­nario.

Can they re­tract into their shell?
How long in there can they dwell?
Is a shell made of skin or bone cells?
Does a tur­tle know that it has a shell? How can it tell?
If you drop a rock on a tur­tle’s shell, will it crack?
Can they leave their shells, go for a walk, and come back?

In sci­ence class as I grew older I learned about the crea­tures.
“The tur­tle, like the tor­toise is one with the shell,” taught my teach­ers,
But they never taught us of the in­ter­est­ing fea­tures;
They never an­swered the in­ter­est­ing ques­tions.
So I checked some books out of the li­brary and had a few ses­sions
Of read­ing of tur­tles under my cov­ers with a flash­light
While the laugh­ter of other kids echoed till twi­light.
Tur­tles for me be­came a manic, even zeal­ous ob­ses­sion,
As I grew into ado­les­cence and a jeal­ous de­pres­sion.
I en­vied the essence of the tur­tle’s tenac­ity
And I hoped with vo­rac­ity that I could find the ca­pac­ity
To be like the tur­tle.

I tried to mimic the tur­tle’s sagac­ity and bril­liance,
And most of all I cov­eted its re­silience.
I tried through high school to be like the tur­tle
While the fields of freind­ship were fer­tile,
The fruits of youth ripe for the tak­ing,
I tried to fos­ter re­la­tion­ships for­sak­ing
The quak­ing of my body that left me feel­ing ill.
De­spite my shak­ing I tried to be still.
I took so­cial in­ter­ac­tion like I would take a pill
(If I could swal­low pills, which at the time I could not.)
Even­tu­ally in my web a few friend­ships were caught,
But it was not be­fore long that they started to rot.
I tried to stay strong, shoul­ders out, back taut.
Again and again I fought my re­jec­tion,
Only to be each time frought with de­jec­tion.

I tried to be like the tur­tle, to try to be well,
But each time I fell I would re­tract back into my shell.
It’s so dif­fi­cult to make my­self vul­ner­a­ble with­out feel­ing gullible once it’s all over.
I don’t know about tur­tles,
But it didn’t take a rock to make my ker­ati­nous cara­pace crack.
I don’t know about tur­tles,
But if I could I would leave my shell and never come back.