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Stopping for a Turtle
Myrna W. Merron


I stopped for a turtle the other day,
its orange and yellow tattoos
glistening as it journeyed
across a busy road.
Was it oblivious to danger, to humans
encased in shiny armor,
careening along the same asphalt?

Or did it just not care,
centered only on its own trek
to get from one side to the other
for food, drink, a warm place to rest, nest?

I wondered whether to step out,
pick it up and place the creature where
I thought it wanted to go, but instead I accelerated,
skirted around, trusting other drivers to notice,
patiently allow the traveler to find its own way.

The turtle was taking a chance, and so was I.
Living mostly within my warm shell,
I occasionally poke my head out to peer
at where I’m going, heedless of danger
or an encounter with an unforeseeable barrier.

Along my path at years 13,17, 29, 37,

a few people with fixed intentions
sought to collect me, set me down
where they believed I belonged,
unmindful I needed to find my own way.


This poem first appeared in Prime.
Used here with permission.


Myrna W. Merron is a retired educator of children with disabilities, school psychologist, and professor of special education. After living in various locations up and down the east coast, she has settled in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and loves living in an area brimming with educational opportunities and the arts. After many years of writing reports, education articles, and articles about the challenges women face after losing a spouse, Myrna decided to try something new—poetry. She has now published two collections: My Walks and Prime, and is currently working on a third collection, Coda.



Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
This poem went to an unexpected place. Well-done!
Posted 04/21/2023 11:00 AM
Lori Levy:
Insightful. Great ending.
Posted 04/19/2023 05:05 PM
Sorry about the jumble at the end of my previous blurb. To continue: Trust other drivers?! I read once of guys, out drinking, who challenged each other to see how many cats they could hit in an evening. Even "normal" drivers drive way too fast. Not all drivers will be as careful as this poet.
Posted 04/19/2023 01:34 PM
The last verse is wonderful. But I don't think it is comparable to moving a turtle in the direction he is heading across a busy road. I agree totally with Daryl's comments. Moving a turtle seems to me the right thing to do if one can. Yes, the turtle mentioned below made it, and yes, there are do-gooders who do harm unintentionally (my three attempts at rescuing loose dogs ended in deaths I did not imagine, so now when I drive, I try not to see), but I still share Daryl's philosophy if not his courage. and yesdo harm, and yesended in deaths I did not imagine, so now when I drive, I try not to see...)
Posted 04/19/2023 01:31 PM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I love this visual wise poem using the metaphor of a turtle to describe people. Favorite lines: "Living mostly within my warm shell, I occasionally poke my head out to peer at where Im going, heedless of danger or an encounter with an unforeseeable barrier." Also liked the wise ending.
Posted 04/19/2023 11:38 AM
I found your poem to be a truly graceful analogy of making it across obstacles toward the direction of our choice. Mindful that it's not always easy nor without some risk.
Posted 04/19/2023 10:50 AM
Larry Schug:
That's right, Darrell. We can choose to "help" others, people and creatures or not. Kindness is always an option. I though it was quite skillful the way the poem turned philosophical,at least, to me.
Posted 04/19/2023 09:00 AM
Cathy’s Sister:
Friday evening rush hour traffic is always terrible and yet I saw a turtle cross four lanes of traffic, somehow thankfully getting to the other side.
Posted 04/19/2023 08:52 AM
Darrell Arnold:
I have stopped for many turtles, tortoises, snakes, birds, dogs, squirrels, and kittens in my day. There is no way I would ever trust other drivers to avoid them. Alas, there are drivers who would deliberately hit them. These critters were unable to comprehend the danger they faced. A cogent human can choose to avoid or not avoid circumstances, actions, or events that others know to be dangerous. Let them find their own way if they must. They have that right. God's other animals, presumably placed by him in our trust, unknowingly but assuredly often need, and benefit from, our help.
Posted 04/19/2023 08:40 AM

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