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.