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The Turtle

I saved a turtle yesterday.
He was crossing the highway in front of my university
And I swerved to avoid hitting him, thinking,
‘Thank God I didn’t hit that turtle.’
I drove another block and it occurred to me,
‘My God, someone’s gonna hit that turtle.’
I did a u-turn and drove back
Pulling off by the side of the road and stopping traffic to run out
And grab this terrified turtle,
His head retracting into his shell when I reached him,
Picked him up, and walked him to where he needed to go.
I called my mother when I got back into the car and told her the story.
She said, “On behalf of turtles everywhere, I thank you.”
Today, I am still thinking about him.
How must he have felt, curled in his shell, traffic whizzing by,
So much smaller and more insignificant than anything that night,
And then saved.
When I stare out at the roads, I can’t help but think that each person around me,
Each separate person in each separate car, has a different story.
My problems always seem dwarfed by that magnitude of problems in the world,
Small, insignificant,
Like they shouldn’t matter.
Sometimes I don’t believe I deserve anyone to notice.
But somehow, someone always does,
And somehow, someone always picks me up
Takes me where I need to go and doesn’t ask anything in return.
And maybe maybe maybe
Maybe the turtle is me.
Maybe the turtle is you.
Maybe it doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside because
Inside we’re all the same, scared little box turtles
And maybe we are all drivers and we don’t watch as close as we should
To notice all the turtles on the road.
Maybe we should all stop traffic sometime and run out of our cars,
Pick up the silent, terrified turtle
Take it where it needs to go and ask nothing in return.
On behalf of turtles everywhere, I thank you.





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