Concord Free Public Library Reading, Sunday, December 17, 3 p.m.

I’m excited to be reading at the Concord Library as part of their Thoreau Bicentennial. The reading, with Susan Edwards Richmond, is titled “The Tonic of Wildness.” That Thoreau is such a phrase maker! Click the link for more details and to read about the influence of Thoreau on my work.

Here’s a poem I wrote this summer, inspired by seeing an unusual turtle one afternoon on the crowded side beach. I learned that she was an unusual softshell turtle, endangered in Massachusetts, and the only one of her kind in Walden Pond. “To the Only Softshell Turtle in Walden Pond” was recently published in The Muddy River Poetry Review.

To the Only Softshell Turtle in Walden Pond

I’m afraid for her as she begins

to scratch the beach with her back legs—

                                        her foot-wide shell looks as soft as a floppy felt hat,

and here we are—intruders, all of us

swimmers, toddlers, lovers, helpers, hurters,

threatened, too—and our gear,

Tommy Bahama beach chair, chattering radios,

our ham sandwiches, a side of Diet Coke.

She shuffles back into the water, pokes her head up

like a snorkel, hauls herself back up onto the beach,

when I decide to tell everyone to stand back,

tell the ranger he should set up a safety zone—

hazard cones, yellow tape! I want him to fly in a mate

for the only softshell turtle in Walden Pond

because Look! She’s breathing hard now,

refusing to give up, determined to lay her eggs.

Her legs tear at the hard-packed sand, which begins

to yield to her stubborn necessity.

These unfertilized eggs will never hatch. But she will

bury them anyway—born to this,

and to our indiscriminate earth.