“Box Turtle in the Driveway” - Philip Lee Williams
This shelter moves with her. The sky has turned cantaloupe
In the evening west, paints fruiting flesh across her dome.
I want to tell my daughter one thing quite specific.
That our lives are a slow going, that when we become
Impenetrable, seasons change, do not hold their color.
I lift the wiggling tortoise by the shellac of her shell
And say, Look, this is the ancient one, whose box gleams
In my midlife light. She bears bugs into their sleeping.
My daughter, thirteen, leans to look upon the crow’s-foot
Eye of her kin. She asks one specific thing of me now.
Boy, I caught them in our woods to watch them swim
The waves of air. I turned and let them feel it, liquid
As birth in the forest afternoon. I want to tell my daughter
That moving slowly, going nowhere, is also grace.
I want to tell her that this curved hull will sail awayTonight, going nowhere in particular, then arriving.
I have hidden things from you against my own will.
Stand on my shelled back and look for the curvature
Of love, the very thing that saves us from ourselves.Cast a small shadow. Move against time with your life.
From Elegies for the Water (Mercer University Press, 2009), Copyright Philip Lee Williams. Williams will be the featured reader at an evening celebrating poetry and natural history at the Special Collections Library, UGA campus, on September 14. There will be a reception afterward and a question-and-answer session with Williams and participating poets Clela Reed, Robert Ambrose, Jr., and John Pickering. It is co-sponsored by Word of Mouth and Friends of the Georgia Natural History Museum. Visit the Poetry and Nature: a Natural History Reading Facebook page for complete information about the event.
Philip Lee Williams is the author of 18 books, including 12 novels, four works of non-fiction, and three volumes of poetry. He is a winner of the Townsend Prize for Fiction for his first novel, The Heart of a Distant Forest, and in 1991 was named Georgia Author of the Year for Fiction. He has since then been named Georgia Author of the Year three more times. His most recent books of poetry are The Flower Seeker: An Epic Poem of William Bartram (Mercer University Press, 2010) and The Color of All Things: 99 Love Poems (Mercer University Press, 2015). His website is www.philipleewilliams.com