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Soft-shelled turtle youth
Wonderment to young eyes
Youth to youth meeting.
We talk about our need of toys
Adventures safe and sound
Captured as we are in houses masked
Few adventures to be found.
Yes, cards are there and other games
Alone, or for a crowd
And of course, we also have our pets
Many poems for them are found.
We have our arts, to sing and dance
A piano, guitar, or drums
We play with others, or to ourselves remit
Inside tunes or memorized verses, sung.
And all the while a best friend sits
In softest movements all the time
Through seasons, sun rises, and even moon sets
In quiet memories, parts all mine.
I talk about Ol’ Man River
Still remembering that old minstrel song
Deep voice a’there a’singing
About it just rolling along.
I walked those arterial banks when just a boy
Fished sunfish when only three
And alone found myself in another world
The river giving me things, brand new to see.
I waded and swam, and yes, almost died
Taking chances, I shouldn’t have done
Yet here I am to sing this poem
No fear, no scars, not one.
Except for one nice livid one
It stretches into my soul
Never leaving the muddy river swum
Living there, never growing old.
A stick to help, time to go out about
Which way, which bank to walk
Miles mean nothing in a memory trek
As Time, it slows to talk.
Come... let me share a different World then yours
You cannot live beneath its waves
It has currents too, to carry you off
To where, or what, you say?
Depends a lot on season’s presence
Cold, frozen, then walk on ice
Be careful where you walk though
A crack, fall through, cold wet ain’t nice.
And when a’flowing mighty strong
Spring rains, snow melt arrives
It’s banks can rise to cover the lands
Dry land life, may not survive.
But I, this time, do set the pace
As old loved banks… call back again
Where river left fresh dirt, to grow life fresh
Living crops, feeding hungry men.
Still, dam it up and change its course
Try wrestling it into shape
To make it plain as our housing is
Little left worth, candling a cake.
Ho-hum, it goes flat and energy’s lost
Making power for only men
While life that lived in it’s seasons strong
Weakens, left only in memory then.
And it was there, I first did find my friend
A soft-shelled turtle, surprised as I
It went into the water, as I laughed in joy
It’s head poking up to meet my eyes.
We looked, and stared at each other
Each wondering what we were
I sat down on that wooded river bank
Letting my young fingers, water stir.
The ripples soft went out to it
I hummed a song of peace
He took a moment, swam back to me
I placed him on my knee.
I call him he, for boy or girl I could not tell
Nor old enough to care
He did fine, head poked out looking at me
For a time we both just stared
I then picked him up gently by his soft green shell
And softly petted his head
Then set him back at rivers edge
So he go swim back home again.
I saw him twice more that year, before winter came
And twice more, in the gentle years that passed
Each time he was bigger, hey, so was I
Looking back, it sure seemed fast.
And the last time I saw him, was at fourteen
I was fishing by an old rotten stump
Using fish tails as bait to catch some bass
Bad day, I was getting stumped.
And all a’sudden up popped his head
Good God, but he was big
Like a big, green dinner plate, he floated up
As I quickly reeled in my rig.
I threw out some pieces of fish I had
He gobbled them up real fast
Into the river, shoes off, I laughed wading right in
Stood quiet, while minutes past.
And then he did, he swam over to me
Let me softly pet his head one time
And then off he went, and swimming down
His soul had touched with mine.
The years have past, who forgets such a thing
When wild life meets wild men in peace
With Nature blessing moments like this
Chaos falling away, in Balance released.
And now, as old as my Great Grandpa was then
I, like him, sitting, paging my life
Through the chunks of Time that I have lived
All the good times, through calms and strife.
I hold this memory of friend Turtle met
And hope all have a memory, similar to that
Where the World shows what it could be
If we but take some time, to act.
Not in taking or giving, but peaceful share
Even that, no cost to bear
But quiet and watchful, all senses alert
Letting Nature set the table to share.
She sure did a job on me over my time
Owls, hawks, chipmunks and deer
With the soft-shelled turtle opening the door
Never closed, leaving me locked in fear.
Not to say I would approach a bear
An alligator, tiger, lion or moose
But I understand need, to give them their place
For us all to live free, as we choose.
I learned my needs as normal, not bold
But different than a bee’s needs or fish
Clean air, clean water, clean dirt we share
Each bring health to our daily dish.
And as the Sun, it rises up bright each day
Giving us each our Time to live
May we all make sure, to in balance pay
So our own sunset, will be one of bliss.
Copyright © brian rusch | Year Posted 2020