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Nocturn for the Loggerhead Turtle

Betsy Holleman Burke

The night is licorice black. Myrtle

roots seize my ankle on a path

to the beach. Blind, hands wave,

reach out, hope a banana spider

sleeps. Its web shrouds my face.

Dark skies command obeyed. No

lights on this barrier island.


Suddenly, luminescence. Sand alive

with mica flecks, a million tiny mirrors

catch, reflect comets, sparkle wave

tops, shimmer shells of ghost crabs.

The cosmos, a moon sliver, offers

a phosphorescent welcome to the turtle.

She appears from the surf, drags her


three hundred pounds to the far dune

to deposit eggs -- dozens, hundreds in

the shallow nest she creates in the sand.

Her flippers operate a backhoe. Long

task complete, she lumbers back to her

Atlantic home. A scene as old as creation

we watched forty years ago together.


Photo by Olivia Helsel.

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