Under stagnant algae blooms
where slimy catfish feast on muck,
a spiny snapping turtle looms
before it bites a baited hook.
He sinks the point into his beak
then feels a tugging from the line
towards which he cannot help but creep
and follow with his ancient mind.
It leads him right up to the edge
of where the water meets the air;
A skillful hand then starts to dredge
his shell out from his muddy lair.
The turtle now alone on land
begins to hiss and snap with ire.
My grandpa then wipes off his hand
to cock the .410 bore and fire.
I watch him then remove the hook
to add a piece of beef as bait.
It was the second time he took
a turtle from the pond that day.
“I’m only gonna take a few,”
he said before he cut the beef.
“We’ll only get the old ones who
are eating all the baby geese.”
The buzzards would have only five
big shells to pick away for meat.
The goslings then could learn to fly
with baby turtles at their feet.
There was a time I wondered why
we could not let the turtles thrive.
But looking back I realize
that death helps new things come alive.
(Poetry copyright 2010 by Devin Routh. Used with permission.)