I Dream Painted Turtles and Sooty Ravens

by Shawn Christensen

muscled neck craning out of pumpkin-painted shell
turtle stared lazy, blinking slow
at shadows on the grass carving
delicate moonlets and swift
half-circles on the bright hot sands, while

the wind carried loose leaves
into the river flow—
breeze blew ripples upstream
while the current washed
the leaves downstream into the lake
to be swallowed by white waves

turtle raised a glassy eye
to the sun and saw
several ravens painted black against
the clear-sky sun, churning
the air with their beating wings—
landing in a skeletal elm, claws
tearing bark from dry branches

the quick black eyes buried
in the spear-like heads
of the ravens flickered
from above—light was swallowed whole
in the rounded pits of their eyes

turtle preferred the warmth of sand and sunlight
to the disconcerting chill that fell
with shadow, but the echoing green beneath
the curling waves called above all—
the weightless dreamy feeling of floating.
and beauty of algae-filtered emerald light

from above, sooty ravens eyed the scene levelly
and turtle dropped water-ward
in a single smooth motion,
pulling through sun-streaming, water-broken light
with smooth-clawed paws,
moving toward a vague recollection
of a half-remembered desire