Today, while cutting back the branches of a large bush I have in the yard
A tortoise came slowly out of the leaves and stood in front of me.
He was unlike the tortoises I knew in the lake just down from my house
In fact I had never seen a tortoise quite like this one.
He had a yellow shell that rose to a black point
He had a large grey head
with old eyes
that bulged giving him a wise
He watched me for a while
like a man who sees an old friend on the street and waits
to see if the friend recognizes him.
He seemed very gentle
but I felt he had met a lot of suffering.
‘Hello Tortoise’ I said after a while
and then felt ashamed that I had spoken to him.
Not because he is a tortoise but because he did not seem
like the kind of being who should be spoken to without him having spoken first.
After a while of watching each other
he turned and wandered slowly back into his bush.
I stopped cutting it back then,
collected my shears and went back into my house.
I would leave his bush alone.
I think of the little fellow often, but I haven’t seen him since.