by Laurinda Lind

We toss oats to the wary ducks,
but they stay to the murky middle,
looking anywhere else. Instead,
a tribe of turtles, twenty or thirty,
surfaces six at a time under each
floating flake, and they climb
one another’s backs to be first.
Eventually a turtle twice the size

of the others bunts the rest away.
We think this must be the alpha,
but here in this pond, he
is the pretender. The real king,
the turbo-turtle, lazily arrives
to take charge. Meanwhile
on land, a raccoon climbs
to the boardwalk and comes

at me, so I retreat. We hope
he is wise to the resident alligator.
Recently I was ripped in a more
civilized way, and, since the hospital,
I have become as harmless
as this raccoon turns out to be.
In a sodden tree that stands alone
like an island, a heron keeps flying

back with sticks to feed
through pine branches to a nest.
My parents watch on either side
of me. Under my clothes, my scar
is jagged red. I’m in the nest this week,
but after this pond I will fly away home
to my separate life, to different water,
to a deep new tribe of troubles.