Poor Painted Turtle
by William Doreski
In the Sudbury River one evening
you caught a turtle while I fly-fished for bass.
Poor painted turtle liked worms,
didnít take the hook
but stubborn as petrified wood hung on.
Lately the melon afternoons
have sickened with little dwarf promises.
Who keeps the sun engineered on its railway?
Downtown in Roxburyís haunted bars,
this afternoon I measured you
in the curl of a lip, the thrust of an insult.
Censoring faces smiled at me.
They thought me addicted to local culture,
didnít remark the murder on my breath.
Those faces were mine a moment,
homey in the mid-day light.
What better expression of humility
when the shades have lowered for a kiss?
At home the familiar bed goes limp.
On the lawn, yellow sorrel mimics the artificial smile
you assume whenever your face is on fire
and your lover
is drunk on kerosene.
Now the river in drought has fallen.
A turtle-head periscopes forthó
like me a mud-walker on the bottom,
for love of reflected sky.
Copyright © 2002 by William Doreski.