Turtle (new poem)


There was supposed to be a great storm,

the kind everyone looks forward to

with child eyes

before hiding away behind fear.

Great preparations were made.

For the first time in a while,

there were no strangers around.

The sky overhead

cleared and then darkened.

But no rain fell.

There was only,

a slight quickening of the wind.

We all stood and waited,

waiting for something to begin.

Something we could not even imagine

creating with our own hands.

Storms can be so beautiful,

even though they devastate,

in the wake of destruction

life always seems to wake.


that is what draws us,

to stand where we know we shouldn’t.

To tease lightening dare wind and pretend to oceans

we aren’t scared of them.

Maybe it is the hope

that in their destruction of what we have built,

the lives we lost track of –

no barrier between us left standing –

will find us again.

Return to us.

Come back to us.

And we will be strangers no more.

The excitement, I think, lies less in the expectation

of the drama of destruction and devastation

then the chance to dream of what can be built

without having to face what has been.

Look now,

the rain has just begun.

Something soft and warm,

not that frightening at all.

I am walking down the street,

knowing I may have made a mistake,

in choosing to walk where I am going

and not find sheltered ways.

I live in a different world now.

One I hold to me and share with few.

Not because it is a secret,

but because for others it is a storm

they know is coming,

but one they do not want to see.

The thought of preparing for it,

is frightening.

And so they are frightened of me.

So I hold my tongue,

to the point

I have almost lost my voice.

I live in a different world now.

There are no more strangers for me.

I have been following a path

that led from the debris

of what the last storm

cleared out of the way of me.

It is raining harder now.

But I am where I am going.

There is only a slight shaking,

I learned from my old dog,

to clear my head and feelings.

I am here to sit

and spend some hours

the last hours as it will always be,

with someone who is –

unknown to me.

The storm has kept family away

and friends have long ago gone.

The nursing staff treads quietly,

they are afraid of this room.

When one is trained to heal,

it is hard to grasp the healing

that comes with letting go.

To you or anyone looking in,

you would think

the body curled beside me,

held nothing but habit,

the lungs struggle to force air in and out,

the heart strains to pump blood

through veins grown tired and shut.

The eyes are unseeing,

The voice long silent.

Only science tells us,

the hearing remains.

So I lean forward and whisper,

my voice raspy from lack of use,

the sound almost a low groan:

“No one here can help you,

If we could have, you know, it would have been done.

Your family loves you

and wishes you suffer no more.

When you are ready,

it is okay to let go.

I will stay here the whole time with you,

and you will never



Turtles draw back into their shell

when frightened or in pain,

Humans do much the same.

Like the turtle’s shell,

ours are webbed with nerves,

that let us see when we cannot look,

feel when we cannot touch,

speak when we have no voice,

and hear with our entire beings.

In this room,

there are no strangers,

I sit now and wait,

for whatever is

to cease.

I could tell you more about what happens

when shells communicate,

but like the turtle extended,

my voice lacks any strength.

Sound travels in waves,

and what we build sometimes

can stop it from being heard,

perhaps that is why the turtle


to feel with its shell

rather then listen with ears.

Lacking many hunters,

the turtle knows only one storm.

And has prepared itself well.

I find my own body changing,

much more actually then just that.

My ears are growing still and silent,

for I have grown to trust the language I sense more

then one learned with words.

My shell I see for what it is,

and am learning to honor its weight.

The shell, I too, one day will crawl in,

then someone will come

sit with me,

and wait.

Till then, I rely on storms

to share with you the why of I am.

That feeling of hope beginning again,

that knowing

there are no strangers

anywhere in this land.

For no matter what we have built,

in our very different and separate lives,

no matter what culture we hail from

or language we speak,

or things we believe,

all of us share

the same ending,

and that means,

we are one


“If we could help you,

you know we would have done so.

Your family loves you.

And wishes you suffer no more.

When you are ready,

it is ok to let go.

Someone will be here with you,

and you will never



c.2010 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.


About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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