1. A woman retires, moves to the north, to a house on a small wild lake. Annoyed by the free creatures living under her dock, a mink and her babies, their mess of crayfish shells, she has them shot as they drowse in their nest. Where is Dante when you need him, who’d devise her perfect and deserved hell— a cement box to live in, which she cleans and cleans and cleans and cleans, never recognizing it as hell. To her the lake is a picture postcard where nothing stirs and nothing will. 2. The full moon, round as round can be, looks down at me through my window. There will always be murder, it says. Pity the woman empty of wonder. She does not know where she is, pacing her quarters, a Lady MacBeth scrubbing her floors, scrubbing her hands of her dark business. But I mourn the lost ones, the rippling beauty of wild, the she-creature who brought life into the world and harmed no one. Let my poem find the woman in her warm bed, let her feel its cold steel on her forehead.
In the long green days of summer my grandfather caught a snapping turtle whose feet were as big as his hands. He stowed it in a heavy crock by the door, lidded with a thick plate and heavy stone, and went to bed dreaming of soup. In the morning the crock was empty under its plate and stone. The turtle was gone. For all we know, it’s living still, all weight and plate and cutting beak, trudging again the slick bottoms or lying under the mud in the pond, snaking its long neck up like a snorkel. Caught by its relentless nature and freed also. Think of it encased in that ceramic tomb. Just another egg to break out of, maybe. The same scrabble up slippery sides. The same imperative. The weight of the lid on its back, moving backwards along the carapace, tipping as the turtle clambers up and out, clattering back into place over emptiness, while the turtle— who survived the dinosaurs, the meteorite and nuclear winter, my grandfather’s dinner plans, that long moment when you’re caught and held by the wicked and the bad, hope sealed off, when you are meant to only wait and tremble— the turtle worked its slow magic: Move, move, against the heavy dark.