Turtle and Snake

I let go of his hand that stayed curled like a shell,
the hand I pretended was holding mine too,
took the dirt road toward the swamp.
At the edge of the field, to my left, a turtle.
To my right, a snake, five-footer, stick-straight.
Cottonmouth, if I wasn’t mistaken.
Without thinking the thing through,
wanting nothing more than to fix,
I moved the turtle out into the tall green.
Then saw in the road the lip of loose sand,
the hole, the clutch. The snake,
it came to me (I’m a bit slow), was waiting.
Why, if it had to, it would wait all day.
I set the turtle back—tried to, anyhow—
the way she had been. I wanted to believe
she would blanket her eggs with soft dirt,
camouflage the nest, outwait the snake.
I walked on, hauling my hope like a heavy shell.

Ashley Mace Havird

Ashley Mace Havird

Ashley Mace Havird’s fourth collection of poems, Wild Juice, will be published in the Southern Messenger Poets Series (LSU Press) in Spring 2021. The Garden of the Fugitives (Texas Review Press, 2014) won the X. J. Kennedy Prize. Her poems have appeared in many journals, most recently Image, Sewanee Review, and American Journal of Poetry. Her novel, Lightningstruck (Mercer University Press, 2016), won the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction. www.ashleymacehavird.com.
Ashley Mace Havird

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Author: Ashley Mace Havird

Ashley Mace Havird’s fourth collection of poems, Wild Juice, will be published in the Southern Messenger Poets Series (LSU Press) in Spring 2021. The Garden of the Fugitives (Texas Review Press, 2014) won the X. J. Kennedy Prize. Her poems have appeared in many journals, most recently Image, Sewanee Review, and American Journal of Poetry. Her novel, Lightningstruck (Mercer University Press, 2016), won the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction. www.ashleymacehavird.com.