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(25 July 1956)

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An Interesting Ancestry

To some of us, a tortoise lives on land
while turtles only rarely leave the sea.
‘Chelonians' applies to any brand,
so here I'll use this terminology.

Land dwellers share aquatic ancestry
and most of us decided to stay put.
Chelonians agreed to disagree.
A flippered revolution was afoot.

A late Triassic turtle fossil shows
a hard-shelled belly plate and softer back,
presumably to ward off fatal blows
from deeper-dwelling predators' attack.

Did top shell metaphorically ‘dissolve'
when full-shelled forebear sought the sea's embrace?
Or did an unshelled forebear's shell evolve
in oceanic pilgrimage retrace?

Genetic sleuthing points to latter case.
The evidence suggests that once again,
the tortoise forebears left their liquid space
and plodded (swam?) to shore with sigh, 'amen'. *

From sea to shore to sea to shore once more.
You'd surely think a record lies therein.
Yet maybe making not three trips but four
is water loving cousin terrapin.

When next you gaze with love in tortoise eyes
and wonder at his mind's soliloquy,
from languid, longing looks you may surmise,
he's pondering ‘To sea or not to sea'.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, April 18, 2012


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* over many generations obviously

Comments about this poem ('A Villanelle' by Thaumoctopus Mimicus by Diane Hine )

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  • Heather Wilkins (9/1/2013 3:04:00 PM)

    very interesting a good write sets us to thinking

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Pink Butterfly ... (8/27/2013 7:37:00 AM)

    An interesting little tale... warm, clever and tender. God bless you!

  • Janet Budd (1/8/2013 5:10:00 AM)

    You are very witty. I like! ! ! ! I wonder how we'll evolve? A lot of us have shells already, invisible shells, impenetrable shells.

  • Owain Glyn (12/12/2012 8:40:00 AM)

    These creatures are not exactly famous for their perambulatory speed, maybe that goes for their decision making prowess too.

  • Chuck Audette (7/19/2012 2:08:00 PM)

    Was it a race against the whale? Foot to flipper, what a tail! ! And will, too, we, return to the sea? Seems a moves afoot this time of year, to the beach since heat we cannot bear... -chuck

  • Mark Dillon (7/7/2012 9:54:00 AM)

    Th shell and back, eh, , nice one.

  • Captain Cur (7/2/2012 7:35:00 AM)

    Your writing on difficult concepts, settings, evolution and different life forms
    seems effortless when read. The work, research and thought that goes into
    your style of poetry is immense.

  • Patti Masterman (5/4/2012 4:05:00 PM)

    There is such thought and deepness behind your poetry that I am always amazed.

  • Sharad Juneja (4/20/2012 4:36:00 AM)

    A different and unique idea.. u did all the justice..beautifully written

  • Danny Draper (4/19/2012 11:41:00 PM)

    I did see once the nub of a feather on a turtle's flipper and now know why, perhaps their next peregrination will be to the sky.

    Fine poem.

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