starlit sky —
I touch a turtle
before it enters the sea
On a certain night, with a certain tide, and a certain phase of the
moon, a turtle comes back to the very same beach where it broke through
its own eggshell, climbed up through the sand, and scuttled to water.
This female sea turtle has been away for anywhere from one to three
decades. Upon returning, she crawls across the sand to a place she
somehow knows is above the high-tide line. She may repeat the process
from one to six more times throughout spring and summer. Each time, eggs
will be laid in a hole scooped by legs better suited for graceful, powerful
swimming strokes. When depleted of eggs, she will return to the sea and
may swim thousands of miles away from the nesting place. After two or
three years, the breeding female will come back to the beach, within a
few hundred yards of her previous nests, to continue her ancient line.
Miracle and mystery.
K. Ramesh has felt kinship with this process of nature. His touching the
huge reptile has not affected the egg laying or the turtle’s return path
to the sea. She is oblivious to all but completion of reproduction. The
writer has added this experience to a part of himself. Touch sends the
animal home again, perhaps with his blessing.
When turtles first evolved from other reptiles to live in the sea, the
patterns of stars were different; none of our named constellations were
even recognizable. Sea turtles swam with some dinosaurs and nested on
beaches where others walked and roared in the night. One hundred and
eighty million years ago. The seven species in today’s oceans range from
a hundred pounds to well over a thousand—smaller than their ancestors
yet, for the most part, unchanged in the last ten to twenty million
years. The males never return to land, procreation taking place in the
ocean. Females must return to the sand.
I admire the effortless language Ramesh has used. In the dark of the
moon, the eternity of the stars is invoked. Although he mentions
himself, the reader can easily be substituted. The words “touch” and
“turtle” have an affecting musical smoothness. The last line portrays
his need to touch before this ancient beast disappears in the dark
water. The “sea” is an open, well-chosen, end-sound that brings the
reader or listener of the haiku back to stars and “sky.” In so few
words, this poem sets the stage, shows the action in brief, and leaves
me there as a partner on a beach, pondering this infinite mystery of
nature. Life will find a way.
K. Ramesh has been witness to a timeless act. I have enjoyed sharing it
with him . . . under the stars.