Turtle's Eye View
Rains came late this spring and Earth sucked as much moisture as her dry Dirt could hold. After two
days, Rains dispersed but Clouds stayed, allowing Earth to savor her drink.
This was the day Turtle chose for her journey.
A clutch of eggs were ripe inside and she felt her body’s readiness to release them as she had done throughout her 20 bearing years.
Sliding her hard, spotted yellow belly (plastron) across the pine needled Forest floor, Turtle patiently, efficiently made her way toward Place beyond Pines and Pines and Pines where Earth would be covered in moist broad leaves and the smell of Red Maple was strongest. Here, Maple stretched her branches and unfolded her leaves to help Earth moderate her temperature. Together, on the edge of Maple’s canopy, they would provide Turtle an ideal spot to lay her eggs.
As Turtle’s claws swept her along, opposing feet in unison, the rhythm of her movement faltered. She could feel her back left foot slip as it often did since the time when Snapper had tried to catch her. She had been too fast for him, but he had been too fast for her toes. Her skin had healed and her gentle slips reminded her to use greater caution.
Turtle pressed on, feeling her bladder filling and an urge to lay. She would save her urine to soften the earth near Maple when she found a good place to burrow and place her eggs. Her urine would soften Earth for the digging.
With each movement toward Maple, Turtle could sense the direction like a magnet subtly pressed and pulled with the gentlest force between Earth’s poles. Turtle trusted Earth as much as she trusted in her own shell and bones and blood. She knew and felt her connection to Earth and all Life. To do so was as effortless as breathing. Breathing, Turtle scanned the needled horizon and drew in the smell of Life around her. Her eyes were captured by reflection of Light off Puddles and Plants who offered suggestions for paths of least resistance. The scents of Moisture softening fallen Leaves and Microbes who were feasting drew her forward toward Maple with continued assurance.
She came to the place where trees ended and Earth’s consistency changed. Here Turtle could feel Sun’s unfiltered strength in the rays he sent down to warm all below. Turtle enjoyed a moment of renewed energy as the dark markings on her broad carapace absorbed the warmth that Sun offered to her cold skin and blood.
As Earth’s surface shifted from pine leaf litter to dust and gravel, Turtle noted the change in sound echoing inside her shell body. The softer sound of swishing and crunching was replaced by the still soft “scraaape”-ing. This terrain slipped more willingly under her feet and her rear left foot tensed slightly to compensate.
As she neared completion of the gravel portion of her path, Turtle felt a faint rumble under her belly. The rumble became a roar in the distance as Rocks rattled and Dust vibrated. The roaring grew louder and louder from the north beyond where graveled Earth rose to a small peaked hill. Turtle remembered a time before when she had made this crossing and a shining, roaring, lifeless creature had swept past her in such a furious Wind that she had barely pulled her body into her shell by the time it had passed her. She felt a surge of fear and expected to withdraw toward the safety of her shell at any moment but could not see the source of the roar yet. Perhaps there was still time to get beyond Gravel and into the safety of Canopy.
With a breath, she centered her mind, her heart, her energy and pressed forward carrying her eggs.
In a flash, the roaring creature appeared, Sun’s light reflecting off its body, nearly blinding Turtle. She had barely begun to retract when the world spun around her, Sky becoming Earth. Her organs suddenly ached in a way she had never conceived of and the smell of raw fresh flesh mixed with dust filled her nostrils. She felt her means of connection changing.
The sound of roaring moved away from her and the quiet rustle of Wind in Leaves became audible again as Turtle felt her body growing cold like hibernation, then beyond as Life drained from her body.
I do not know if the driver heard or saw Turtle, or Trachemys Scripta, in her last living moments.
When I met her, I came upon her body and eggs expectantly. My husband Paul had told me of her general location in the road. He knew I would want to visit with what was left of her and had suggested I take our phone camera to photograph her, to honor her.
As I approached, I saw her large crushed frame, plastron (belly) up. I saw the tire width streak of her blood trailing toward me, away from her and the hill that likely blinded her from view until the last moment.
I wondered that her plastron was up and whole while her carapace was crushed into several pieces.
And I saw her eggs. Broken. The soft shells were split, revealing yolks and whites. If only the shells hadn’t been broken then I could have helped them to hatch. I noticed other, smaller yolks from unformed eggs inside losing hope for a shell to form around them.
I crouched and gazed through the center of her side body to the earth beyond.
I snapped a photo and looked into her eyes, open, soft, lightly glazed. I adjusted her head and touched her feet. I felt her nails and noticed her back left foot had shortened toes and was nearly nail free. Then I heard someone in a car approach and I stepped between them and her while trying to appear nonchalant while hovering around a twelve inch road kill Trachemys Scripta with a camera. After they passed, I snapped a few more shots and then moved her and her eggs out of the road, placing her in her rightful position of carapace up.
I snapped a few more photos while noticing the line of her beak and the variation of her skin scales. Before I left her, I stilled my external body and internal mindstuff to be present in breath and the now with Turtle.
With vague consciousness, I noted the old and flashy aluminum soda can littered inches away.
Weeks later, my daughter Zinnia and I came back to look for Turtle. I saw the aging litter and found her drug only a few feet away further into the brush for safer munching.
We moved the pieces left –skull, plastron, bits of carapace— closer and perhaps safe for our further use.
Zinnia and I cleaned the pieces of her carapace and hope to make beads or special things from the parts of Turtle we have salvaged…or at least craft memories of our honoring and repurposing efforts through Turtle’s loss and our gain. We are making efforts to hold sacred moments in the violence.