Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tale of a Turtle

A mild spring evening.  Down at the dock, a couple of children are fishing or at any rate  standing there holding poles.

Of a sudden, one line jerks, and the kid lifts  from the water   a clearly undersized specimen, with roughly the outline of a flounder.

But no sooner is the creature  placed upon the dock, than it begins to scramble, frantically, on little legs.

The boy had in fact hooked a tiny turtle.  Yet its sudden unexpected ambulation -- scurrying right outside the frame of our prior expectations -- was as electric in its effect, as startling and unsettling, as when the fish in the Arabian Nights  lifted their heads from the skillet  and began to speak, and prophesy. 
Consternation spread among the onlookers, our each deep wish now swiftly and simply that the little guy go free.

Fortunately the hook was but loosely lodged, and soon fell out  from the mere effects of its involuntary host’s exertions:  whereupon  incontinently,  the sturdy midget  plopped himself  shell-over-head  into the murk of the dockwaters, without so much as a good-bye.

The image stayed with me all evening  and into the night.  For just so did we -- you and I and he and she -- long lie perdu  in the bare clay,
till the finger of our Creator, stretching forth,
did pry us loose,  and launched us into life.

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