for Mary Vazquez

I still think about him
that great old turtle
large as a coffee table
standing by the side of the road,
his narrow eyes, his wrinkled head,
his gray-green shell spotted with lichen.

How he rose up on his elephantine legs!
How he hissed and snapped
at the metal ice scraper
you thrust at him
trying to steer him away from the stream
of cars barreling past.

It was his will against yours
as you blocked his path
again and again
until finally he turned
and ambled off into the trees
without so much as a backward glance.

Two years have passed and I wonder,
Does he still think about us
the way we still think about him?
Does he dream about us?
Thank his lucky stars
we came along just in time?

Or does he curse us daily
for stopping him from stepping
into that dangerous traffic,
risking it all to reach
his ancient heart’s desire,
forever unknown on the other side of the road?