Rosemary Royston

Chelydra Serpentina

You, with your ancient head as large as my fist.
You, for whom only primal beauty exists
across your pocked and prehistoric carapace.
Today, I made it to the edge, directly behind you
while you floated just below the surface.
You were watching for tadpoles, small fish,
didn’t know I was there until my final step.
Did my shadow block the sun?
You descended, with a brisk,
eloquent dive. I felt vindicated--
that I could, for once, sneak up on you.
You with your mud-splotched shell
not unlike your predecessor’s that hangs
in the shed, its rank odor yet to wane.

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