In this week’s poem, Jeri Theriault’s “landscape with turtle,” a chance encounter finds the speaker musing on the substance of death and life. I love how this poem weaves human forms and relations with those of other beings, and with the larger cycles of the earth.

Jeri Theriault’s poetry collections include Radost, My Red (Moon Pie Press) and the award-winning In The Museum of Surrender (Encircle Publications). She is the editor of Wait: Poems from the Pandemic (Littoral Books). Her poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as The American Journal Of Poetry, The Rumpus, The Texas Review, and The Ashville Poetry Review. She lives in South Portland.

landscape with turtle
By Jeri Theriault

I find a box turtle’s bottom shell
one edge jagged like tiny teeth
the other curved amid stones
in the dried-up creek bed.
my mother loved such leavings
shells     feathers     the peaty scent
of earth—so close to human
this leftover matter—this humus.
if I could I’d bury her again
among tree-roots
her slow-good rot    the weft
to vixen-crow-turtle    warp
all binding all becoming earth.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “landscape with turtle,” copyright 2021 by Jeri Theriault, is reprinted from The Inflectionist Review. It appears by permission of the author.

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