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Life Arts    H4'ed 6/17/22

Spirit of seeing

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What is my life worth
If I don't save a life if I can?

I was driving to an eye appointment in Middlebury.
Yes, curiously, in light of this tale,
I was picking up my new glasses.
I took the country way,
The back way.

I had been driving about 20 miles
When a turtle appeared in my mind's eye.
It was a medium sized turtle.
The image held like a fixed projection
For about thirty seconds
As if the projectionist just wanted
To make sure I got it
And then it faded.

Since I hadn't been thinking about turtles
I started scanning ahead
Just in case it was a premonition,
A preview of the real thing.
But then, of course,
My rational mind stepped in,
Gingerly, but somewhat patronizing:
"What are the chances? (it mused).
You're always seeing things.
There's no turtle.
Enjoy the drive.
You're not a psychic."

But another part of me weighed in:
"Hold your horses!
Turtle time is different than people time.
Maybe this turtle hasn't started
Across the road yet.
Maybe I saw something that hasn't happened yet."
This silenced my rational mind.
(I dare say it was intrigued!)

I arrived at my eye appointment on time.
Wearing my new prescription
I ordered a latte at the local cafe',
Sat at a table, caught up on my emails,
Picked a few things up at the co-op
And headed home.

About halfway home,
I noticed the car ahead of me
Passed over a large object in the road.
It was the turtle I saw earlier!
I recognized it from about 300 feet away.
It was in my lane but closer to the double line.

Because I had seen it before, I was primed
To know what to do.
The car behind me was a hundred feet back.
We were all moving about 50 Miles an hour.
I slowed down, steering to the left.
Straddling the double line and the turtle.
I passed over the turtle and stopped.
I flicked my flashing lights on.
I opened my door and left it open.
I walked behind my car
And there it was,
A medium sized snapper,
About the size of a dinner plate.
I knew from previous experience
That it would try and bite me
As soon as I picked it up.
(If you pick up a snapper
By gripping the back of its shell
Behind its rear legs with both hands,
It can't bite you,
But when it tries,
An ancient reflex kicks in
And you might drop it.
Also, it will try
With its powerful clawed feet
To push your hands off.
With a snapper under, say, 4 or 5 pounds
You can pick it up by its tail.
Any larger than that
You risk damaging its tail.)

I carried the irate turtle across a small patch of field
To a soggy spot where the meadow transitioned to marsh
And released it.
Only when I turned around did I notice that
The car in front of mine had also stopped
And was waiting for me to return to my car.
They wanted to be part of the rescue,
Whereas the car behind me
Angrily passed my car and the lead car
Before I was back in my car.

I would like to conclude my little story
With a quote by David James Duncan
In his wonderful book, My Story as Told by Water:
"Life itself sometimes hangs by a thread
Made of nothing but the spirit
In which we see."

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of five nonfiction books, three collections of poetry, "Children to the Mountain", "The Last recurrent Dream" (Two Plum Press), "Conversations with Poetry (coauthored with Tom Cowan), and (more...)

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