A Tortoise by Derek Kannemyer

Sunshine at last, & the woodland walks dappled with it.
On a patch-speckled side-path skirting a pond,
an immense tortoise, sunning itself.
Sshh, she said, as if they had been talking too loudly, or at all,
& tugged him back behind her to the trail.

Until it in its turn wound by the pond,
sludge-green, thick with algae & bottles, & where a tree trailed
bent-trunked over the bank they leaned to peer across it.

There, that mud-bronze mound: the tortoise. Would it crawl
off in the grass? Amend its angle to the sun? Trouble itself
to catch them looking? But it made no move at all.
And really, if it were to, would whatever it might do

reward the wait? They paused, unsure. But to outwait it,
an ancient tortoise on its sun-mullioned trail,
was beyond their capacities. He plucked trash from the pond,
a plastic bag’s worth; she snapped some photos;

they moved on, prattling. Oh, the size of the thing, like a football!
How green the woods were, in the sun, after the rain!
These petaling, companionable byways; this brisk slow lane nowhere at all.


Derek Kannemeyer
Derek Kannemeyer’s two 2018 books are the light verse collection An Alphabestiary and Blue Nib Chapbook 1, as winner of this Irish journal’s winter chapbook contest. His writing has appeared in Fiction International, Smartish Pace, Rattapallax, Rolling Stone, and a few dozen other publications. He lives and writes in Richmond, Virginia.

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