You said there was a giant tortoise in the lake at the bottom of the hill
and when we walked down there I use to peer over your head
just to see if I could see something
anything that might be close to what you said you saw.
I waited to see the round mottled shell crest the water,
like a prehistoric thing from another time. I wanted it so badly.
How was it you got to see? Always you.
Our mothers wrung their hands
watch the road, they said, their voices high and tight.
Other children had been killed there, on that
slick wet pavement down by the lake.
We stole someone’s boat. I know that now, but then
it belonged to us, to everyone in fact. We just chose to take it.
The oars dipping into the water, the boat turning round and round,
my eyes desperate to see a fin, a hooked beak, to find the creature.
Instead, we will find your dead dog on that same stretch.
After that, my father will be pulled over,
troubled by the cop for his accent, accused of drinking.
He will speak softly and politely, eyes wet and averted.
I will not see the turtle, not when I got my license,
nor on my wedding day,
nor on the way home from your father’s funeral.
But I will keep looking, even after we have separated,
like kids do, racing home, in the last seconds of light,
not looking back. Not once.
20 hours ago