The Turtle’s Beak

world turtle 1I once thought that all the sky
Was filled with flying things,
In every breath of wind I felt
The rush of feathered wings.

I thought the sea was filled with fins
And tails and scales and more;
That when I neared the ocean’s edge,
That seeing me, they’d roar.

The land, of course, a turtle’s shell
That all of us would ride,
And when we peeked around the edge,
The turtle’s head, he’d hide.

And then I grew to be a man,
If that can really be,
Was taught to doubt, and question all —
“Believe in what you see.”

The sky was filled with clouds of ice.
The wind was merely leaves.
Rock and dirt beneath my feet,
And water filled the seas.

Older yet, I’ve seen the world,
Places near and far.
Man has walked upon the moon,
Reached out to touch a star.

Dived the oceans to their floor,
Soared up into the sky.
Dug beneath the earth for miles
And never questioned why.

I know it all — at least a lot.
I’ve dug and soared and dived.
But as for why we do it all,
The answer’s not arrived.

I sought the knowledge of the great,
The wisdom of the sage.
And finding naught for answers there,
Turned to an earlier age.

When feathered wings rushed in the wind,
And beasts roared in the sea,
And Man and Nature shared this space
With grace and harmony.

The answer’s been there all along
Beneath the turtle shell.
It’s in the rush of feathered wing,
The flash of fin and tail.

They knew it then and know it now
I think I finally see
That while we sought to do, to know,
The secret was to be.

I once thought that all the sky
Was filled with clouds and breeze.
The earth was rock and dust and dirt,
And water filled the seas.

And then I learned to listen when
My soul would try to speak.
I learned to peek around the edge
To see the turtle’s beak.

Steve Tarlton — January 19, 1981

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