By Charles Weld

Turtle Synchrony

A big one strode across my sister’s yard June 3rd. 
And my brother-in-law wrote that another 
appeared the day after to dig up their 
grass and lay eggs for an hour, undeterred
from this task by his presence. The Thoreaus 
also had a nest of turtle eggs, buried by Henry,
after he’d carried them from Dugan’s field where he
had seen a snapper on June 7th. Embryos—
forty-two—in the side yard for study. My brother-in-law
fenced in his nests to protect them from raccoons,
and sprinkled a few moth balls on top, after he saw
online that the buried eggs are sniffed out easily. June’s
the month for turtle eggs, then as now. A small comfort—
the century of synchrony that circumstance can’t thwart.

My Little Turtle 

Artemas Wheeler kept fifteen or twenty 
mud turtles in a wooden crate in his creek,
killing one from time to time for its meat which he
relished. Not to eat, Thoreau’s turtles were for study. 
He’d dig up an egg from the nest he’d buried in the family
yard, and open it carefully to check
on the turtle’s development. In its eleventh week,
still attached to its yolk, one stretched out its neck
and began crawling, dragging the yolk like a parachute
behind it. After measurement, Thoreau set it in the grass 
to die, only to have the one-inch reptile surpass
expectation, survive, and two days later vigorously scoot
across a tub of mud he’d put it in. My little snapping turtle
is how he referred to the scrappy animal in his journal.

Uninteresting Truth

A genre Thoreau’s neighbors seem to have prized 
was the animal-coming-back-to-life story.
Jacob Farmer told one about his grandfather
who, when moving some rocks in the winter,
uncovered a chipmunk frozen stiff which he gently
placed in his coat pocket, took home and laid
on the hearth—to be startled later by the reenergized
animal, scampering around the room, trying to evade
capture. Farmer also said pickerel, frozen hours on the ice,
when put in a pail of water, came back to life. Agassiz
claimed the same over dinner to hear Thoreau disagree,
less willing, apparently, with a visiting celebrity to sacrifice
fact for fiction, than with neighbors—the choice between 
uninteresting truth and interesting falsehood—clean.
A dead fish revive, something that he had never seen.

Fox Run

Scent lingering in the air is a telltale sign,
sweet like creosote or the mixture of turpentine
and linseed oil painters use. Skunk without bite. 
Thoreau smelled some he thought was 12 hours old, 
the fox skirting the village the previous night,
unlikely, he guessed, to have been that bold 
after daylight. Although in a story George Minott told 
him, a dead fox, carried home over David Wheeler’s 
shoulder, and tossed casually onto his entry floor, 
sprang suddenly back to life and ran out the open door,
having feigned death only. Not only bold, but controlled—
an old soul—an expression that some say refers
to those who, after many deaths and rebirths, have innate
balance, the ability to see how unrelated things relate.

Peddling Partridge

There’s not much meat on a February grouse, 
after it’s survived for months on tree bud 
browse. So, when Goodwin, always in need, 
knocked on the side door of a village house
to sell one, his potential buyer, quick to read
the situation, inspected the bird, not wanting
to seem stand-offish, or be a stick-in-the-mud
obstacle to his prospect for some prosperity.
Thoreau wrote that Cheney—the customer—
remarked, maybe as he turned the partridge over,
thumbing its breast, “To have killed it was a pity.”
“It must have found it hard to get a living.”
To which Goodwin replied, “I guess she didn’t find it any 
harder than I do.” Poverty talking truth to Plenty.

Charles Weld’s poetry has been collected in two chapbooks (Country I Would Settle In, Pudding House, 2004; and Who Cooks For You? Kattywompus Press, 2012) and has been published in many small magazines such as Amethyst Review, Blue Unicorn, Southern Poetry Review, Concord Saunterer, Evansville Review, Zingara Poetry Review, Grand Little Things, Snakeskin, Sandy River Review etc. A mental health counselor, Weld has worked as an administrator for a non-profit agency that serves youth experiencing mental health challenges, and live in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.


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