The Tortoise

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

handsome look.

 

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.

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