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The Hatchling


Sea Turtles

When you look east

over the Atlantic Ocean

just after sunset, tilt

your head back slightly,

point at those seven

constellated stars –

the four cartwheeling

around a tri-studded waist—

you will say to me,

There, my beloved, lies

Orion, the Great Hunter.

This knowledge that you

think you have will

make you smile.

But I am not one to be

so easily beguiled.

No, I say, No, that,

beloved one, is

The Great Turtle Mother.

There swims

in the blackwater

heavens Torope, perhaps

what the Algonquin

once called her.

Nearby in this quadrant

of the Milky Way

is her nest in the sands

of a timeless tidal marsh—

your Pleiades. Yes,

when you look

at the moonless sky

here on Hunting Island,

at this moment

of the year, you will

see Her egg fall

from above, you will think

at first, it is the last

of the season’s Leonids,

a wide-tailed meteoric

streak come to the earth

at your feet. But it is

not. You will know that

in your heart

and smile again.

It is simply

Malaclemys terrapin,

the diamondback,

arrived in

lustrous tiled scutes

and golden plastron,

at this hour, in this

place with me:

living proof

that She exists,

oh, beloved.

Karla Linn Merrifield has had 900+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies, with 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the newly released full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. She is currently at work on a poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars; the book is slated to be published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY).

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