Turtle Song

She enchanted the land
when she could feel in her bones
the white man coming—
Jimmy Redfox told me
before basketball practice one day—
to take what he could
for himself.
Standing on the shore
of Dutchman’s Creek,
the elder mother
of the turtle clan
chanted to sky land water
so all would return
to her one day. How long
before my father’s father’s father
claimed over two hundred acres
and three miles
of the creek’s north shore
Jimmy couldn’t say.
But he could tell
how they buried mother turtle
at the base of a young oak
in a field in sight
of the rushing water
so she could become the tree’s spirit,
watch the land as she grew,
and when the tree died
she would be free
to set the spirits in motion,
returning the land
to whom it once belonged.
I don’t believe in curses,
I told Jimmy.
But I did.

* * * * *

Kevin C. Peters transitioned into functional adulthood in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he received his MFA. He then fled the cold to spend several years teaching and traveling abroad. He currently resides in Oregon. His other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

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