Friday, June 28, 2013

Poetry Friday -- Visitor

We had a surprising visitor last week.

I looked out the kitchen window and saw this fine fellow (gal?) walking up our driveway.

Where did he come from? (There was mud between his toes.)
Where was he going? (His determination was singular.)

After admiring his geometric shell, his sturdy legs, his glaring eye, I put him in the damp "lily forest" of the garden out back.

I'm trying to write a poem about our vistor, but there is not a shareable draft yet. In its stead, here is my all-time favorite poem by the former Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan:


Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
she can ill afford the chances she must take
in rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
a packing-case places, and almost any slope
defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
she's often stuck up to the axle on her way
to something edible.

(The rest of the poem is at The Poetry Foundation. You can also hear Kay Ryan read it!)

Amy has the Poetry Friday roundup today at The Poem Farm.

EDITED: The Poetry Friday Roundup Schedule for July-December is FILLED!! Thank you  Katya and Buffy! Later today I'll put the html code in the files over at the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group, get it to Mother Reader to put on the Kidlitosphere website, and provide it to any who ask so that you can have the schedule in your blog's sidebar!


  1. I do love watching turtles lumber across paths and through the grass...but life "below luck level" ??? Yikes!

    1. I would say that this visitor was a bit ABOVE luck level to make it across the street without getting flattened!

  2. Hi, Mary Lee. Oh, I envy you having such a distinguished visitor. In addition to the Kay Ryan poem, one of my favorite turtle poems is Mark Doty's "No."

    1. Oh, THANK YOU, Laura! Love love love this one, too!

      Gack. With these two amazing models, it's going to be hard to go back to my turtle poem!

  3. I can take Nov. 22 at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

    That's a great visitor... I love their slow, methodical gait.

  4. Anonymous11:01 AM

    This turtle is indeed a handsome creature. "A four-oared helmet" is the perfect metaphor for a turtle! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I haven't seen a turtle around the prairie, reminds me of my Missouri days. They do have 'modest hopes'-Kay Ryan is wonderful! If no 'new' takers, I could do Dec. 20th, Mary Lee!

  6. What a beautiful turtle. This week I saw one rescued from the road by a teenage boy - it made my heart light to see him gently lift the shell and set the turtle on the road's edge. I believe that this turtle came to be written about by YOU! Word is out in critter-land! Loved your poem at Buffy's too. And you know...sometimes I think that I would like to be a turtle. Happy PF!

  7. Splendid Kay Ryan poem,splendid!

    Tickled pink to hear about your special visitor, ML. We see these periodically in our yard too, and over the years, have named them (I think they're actually land tortoises but their familiar name is box turtle).

    The one who likes to use the driveway is called Boxcar -- the one who likes the woods is Boxwood, and the fattest one, who eats everybody else's food, is called Boxlunch. :D

  8. Good morning, Mary Lee, and good morning, turtle!

  9. A splendid turtle indeed. I'm voting for a gal--that determined walk might have been to lay some eggs. Love the image of a "four-oared helmet."

  10. Love the Kay Ryan poem! Whadda couple of lines:

    never imagining some lottery
    will change her load of pottery to wings.

    And 'tis a very nice turtle, indeed! Love your photos. This seems to have been the week for animals to have been moved by people...and people to have been moved by animals. :)

  11. Aw, "She lives below luck-level"
    Love the pictures!I can't wait to see the poem you come up with about this turtle, maybe luckier than she she is a star!

  12. I know Kay Ryan and Mark Doty are tough acts to follow, but you have some great pictures here to work with. How'd you do that? I think the one with the turtle shadow is worthy of a line.

  13. A lucky visitor, to wind up in your yard! Thanks for sharing all of this today.

    I read years ago that when one rescues a turtle in the road - and I've done it a few times - one should make sure and set it down in safety in the direction it was traveling, or else it will just venture where it was to begin with again... (Jama's comment cracks me up, by the way.)

  14. Your photos add so much to this poem! Thanks!

  15. and almost any slope
    defeats her modest hopes

    Poor thing! I do love your pictures and can't wait to read the finished (or much more drafted) piece. I just left Buffy's blog and enjoyed your poem there: Habitat. I wasn't surprised a bit by your habitat, but found it to be the perfect ending. You are quite artistic as well, Mary Lee.


  16. What a great visitor! You bring up an interesting topic, Mary Lee -- how do we convince ourselves to write about a topic after we've seen other people write about it so well? We need conviction in the potential of our own perspective, I suppose.

  17. I love, "a four oared helmet!"

  18. "...Even being practical, / she's often stuck up to the axle on her way /
    to something edible." Who else but Kay Ryan sounds like that? Wonderful poem.

    Glad to hear you got plenty of people to host Poetry Friday for the next six months. I'm curious about when/how the word goes out that you are setting up a new schedule...? I keep missing it.

  19. Julie,

    I'm sorry you missed out! I started the call for roundup hosts the first week of June. ( I believe there was a link to the call in every roundup in June.

    I will do the same the first week of December for the January - June schedule. Mark your calendar!

  20. How lucky were you to receive such a noble visitor?! Not graceless at all, IMHO.


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