A Collection of Poems: Ode to the Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle, Paradise

By Vivian Eyre

Ode to the Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle

Every year, volunteers search for cold-stunned sea turtles stranded on Long Island’s east end beaches. In 2019, they found 85 cold stunned sea turtles, only 32 survived.  

                                                                               -New York Marine Rescue Center


Your tear-shaped body, frozen 

in seaweed’s tangled knots. Where in these nets, 

this light, this tide, can I find you?  


Once you knew how to nose out of the birth-egg’s

hide with moonlight and stars, your signs, 

to shimmy the downslope into open blue. 


Your body, all wobble.  Your flippers quick-

slapped the undersea, a frantic rush 

to cross the salty vastness. Why this change now?


All your senses trusting the way it’s always been. 

How soundly you slept in that blind-stitched sea pocket.

Missed the cue: the water’s slow cooling. Yes,


the sea changes around us—

changes us—in ways we barely detect. 

I hope this isn’t true:


the only way I see 

how much the sea has changed 

is by losing you.




Come closer, the sea said,

in this kingdom of slate-gray waves.

I had slipped far down into myself. 

As I look down at the cobbles of feldspar

and quartz, my fears rise. If only I 

had paws or a leaning staff to walk across

what doesn’t give. A rush of wind

through my coat, awakens that old urge 

to turn away. Lately I’ve been practicing 

to stay. I stand there like a sea wall.

It’s too cold to sit down. At the water’s edge 

scoured by rollers, a glacial moraine 

flat-topped like a seat. Maybe a chair rock 

where the ancients sat with their guides—

sunrise, sunset—to ask for the sea’s blessing. 

It came to me like a person: What changes

me is outside of me. The riprap loosens.  

A kind of blessing how I found this place. 

Without the asphalt road cutting through 

the corridor of pines with lofty shadows, 

juncos & sparrows, 

without the villager’s hand-sketched map,

I never would have heard the sea’s two words.