Regular Stuff

Dead Turtles


I left the purple-white dame’s rockets fields of upstate New York and settled the night in Austinburg, Ohio near Cleveland.

The morning came and for the first time in Ohio local history the sun appeared in a blank sky. I rose and took a walk. Behind the tree line lay a meadow with a new asphalt road leading to a suburb under construction. Freshly bituminized, unused. There was nothing to drive to yet.

As I walked I noticed the Jurassic remains of a crushed turtle, browned by time, by road detritus, by decomposition. Someone else crushed it. Not me. Each of his appendages were separated but lying in form ā€” his tail, the legs, the shell, the bones beneath, the head. Just how they’d be if flesh still connected them. Someone, hopefully, got their delivery on time, I thought.

Without warning I was heavy with a child’s emotion. Despite my adult age, the completeness of finality has yet to sink into me. Never a world without my flesh. So I stared at the body a while, as if that were a prayer, and took a photo, as if that were anything but an imprint of death. I kicked it.

I kept walking to the meadow. The meadow was American Gothic, with not one but two water towers in the distance, a few pocks of trees, the morning sun, and beyond one treeline, the multicolored tops of trucks from where I’d walked. All silence. I couldn’t hear them. It was the first time in memory I’d been around trucks without at least the dull roar. I was for once the couple on the porch in New York, tiny distant figures holding hands and looking at the hills, through which wound the distant interstate and its handless heads driving unimportantly toward goals ā€” the road only something to contemplate. That was a little much to believe.


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