To the Least of These

              To the Least of These

The shade of weathered wood,
from a distance down the road
a thick twig
or short stick, an uplifted crick on the end.

But, it is turtle season
warm asphalt and impelling desire call
for crossing to the other side,
seductive reptile mystery on country roads.

I named it before I passed,
stretched neck and upturned head
body raised on short in-turned legs-­
slow motion frozen in turtle-indecision.

Skirting wide to avoid, to give space
on the morning road
I could not avoid my own reproach.

I did not stop.
I did not carry it to the other side.

For a mile or two
saying it will be safe,
saying there is no place to turn around,
my better self-followed close behind.

Turning back, driving slowly
searching where the margin meets the road
there was no short stick, no twig, no turtle­
only a suspicion of a testing of the Spirit.

         The Weekly Avocet #366, 8 Dec. 2019