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MUSED Literary Magazine.

Rescue Effort for Chelydra Serpentina

Marilyn Baszczynski

We find a snapping turtle
on its back, alive, shell-wedged
in the torn side-hole of culvert
below the pond-berm.

After this last storm, water
gushes in torrents, rears into spouts,
roars over shouts for help.
The turtle will drown if it slips back
into the debris-blocked pipe.
We bring large channel-lock pliers.

Head and front limbs reach, mouth open
in silent entreaty, like a child wanting
to be picked up, hoping to live
its allotted thirty or forty years.
Abruptly fierce snapping-fearful
at pliersí touch,

it senses our attempt to rescue,
allows a firm grip and tug. Sudden
rushing surge of water whooshes
the turtle away, a dark sea serpent.
A small branch-dam downstream
snags the racing runaway.

While we struggle to reach it,
I imagine the young snapper
sequestered in our pond,
hiding eggs from predators,
eluding growing numbers
of human hunters.

With another plier-tug, it slides free,
a disappearing shadow.