This poem is part of CavanKerry’s series for National Poetry Month. Every day in April, we post a poem from our community of writers.
by Judith Sornberger
How many poets does it take
to change the world?
All the elegies ever written
for creatures killed on roads
can’t bring back a single one.
Today I still live in the world
where goldfinches gorge
on dandelion fluff in morning sun.
When I open the window
they still rise in multitudes—
a fountain bright, I tell myself,
Yesterday, driving faster
than anyone needs to, I felt a bump,
a loud clunk against my tire.
In the mirror, the snapping turtle rocked
in the highway on its carapace.
She must have been crossing
on her way to lay eggs.
I could have turned around
several times, but why go back?
I was late, and there might be worse
to see than claws raking the air.
But finally I did what people sometimes do—
turned around to face the damage.
Though other cars had passed,
they must have swerved, for she lay there
as I’d left her. One leg trembled
when I picked her up, and scarlet drops
dripped from her beak.
I set her in deep grass well off the asphalt,
pretending, I suppose, that she might make it
to wherever she was going
to bury her leathery globes.
What do other people do after
they see what they’ve destroyed?
What do they do if they don’t write poems?
How many snappers crossing the road
does it take for a nest of eggs to hatch,
for a single hatchling to scramble
to water before it’s munched
by snake, raccoon or skunk?
What would it take for the world
to keep crawling forward,
scraping its egg-laden belly,
toward a place ancient
as the dream of going on?
Judith Sornberger is the author of one full-length poetry collection, Open Heart (Calyx Books), and five chapbooks, most recently Wal-Mart Orchid, winner of the 2012 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize. The Hard Grammar of Gratitude won the 2010 Tennessee Chapbook Competition. Her other three chapbooks are: Judith Beheading Holofernes (winner of the Talent House Press chapbook contest), Bifocals Barbie: A Midlife Pantheon (Talent House Press), and Bones of Light(Parallel Press).