MARCH 2012 - POETRY
The fisherman pressed the rubbery pancake carapace to the table and waited for the head. I didn’t want to watch what happened, but I had to. At age four, at the edge of a murky creek, not knowing scared me more. When the turtle’s head finally darted, the man made a grab: a flash of mollusk crushing jaws, a waggle of smooth, white tongue. The man jerked back, and the slick head snaked away. When he caught hold again, the knife was ready, but as the pale neck waxed into a red crescent, I turned. I heard the fisherman nail the shell to a plank to keep it from wandering, and the turtle tasted like seven meats strung together. I still don’t know what happens in that instant before the shell knows it’s dead— that nameless state between cow and beef, pig and pork, human and corpse. I still turn my head, hearing only the crack of shells.
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