The Turtle

Walking in the rain in the tangled bushes. Cattails, pokeberries. Route 91 drones and hisses in the distance. Fox ghosts wail through the galvanized fence.

Up the steep man-made hill, a giant snake of dirt, an unfinished highway. Across the virgin concrete, the sagging guard rail. Down through horsetails, grass, by the stray poplar, baby willows. Two tunnels let the marsh drain underneath the highway. Between the lanes, I go down to the stream to see the opening to the small tunnel, among the cattails.

There lies a great snapping turtle, dark green encrusted shell. It barely moves, slow motion. Its head sways slowly, mouth slightly open.

A gaping hole in its back, filled with writhing maggots. The turtle is suffering in great pain; the hole punctured in its back by high school kids, those I thought were friends of mine. I know this. I can't remember how I know. They are known for torturing frogs.

The rain is falling around me; I am crying. My eyes blur, slipping on the grass, knots in my gut. My head is thick. I can never forget this. It comes back once in a while. It will always come back. I can't imagine this pain.

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