The Death of a Tortoise

Reg, the perfect pet, rampaged

in purposeful slow motion

through grass, and dandelions

that towered above his shell


Ireland, so frugal with her sun

had given us this day, a day

for swashbuckling tortoises

and lemonade


I watched him weave a path

of flattened grass

I sprayed him with cooling mist as he craned

his b-movie neck upward


emerging from the kitchen with a glass of lemonade

I looked for his haphazard maze but caught

with the corner of my eye, a black shape in the sky

looking up I saw a hawk, still as a painting, against the waiting blue


suddenly, as if his strings were cut, the hawk was falling

stretching physics, and I understood

I followed Reg’s maze and saw that he had scrabbled

under our garden fence into a field, another continent


I peered through copper beeches

to find myself eye to eye with the hawk

tall, almost prehistoric, regal


in its talons was Reg, unsuspecting, a dandelion

a tortoise delicacy, in his mouth

helplessly I clapped my hands and shook the fence to scare this bird

this steel-beaked beast of muscle and iron claws

of wings longer than my arms

it screamed a human scream then, and just two beats took it

and Reg, and his dandelion

up, up and away

I was close enough to feel the wind

close enough to see that there was no blood



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