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Steve Denehan

Death of a Tortoise

Reg, the perfect pet, rampaged
in purposeful slow motion
through grass, and dandelions
that towered above his shell

Ireland, so frugal with her sun
had given us this day, a day
for swashbuckling tortoises
and lemonade

I watched him weave a path
of flattened grass
I sprayed him with cooling mist as he craned
his b-movie neck upward

emerging from the kitchen with a glass of lemonade
I looked for his haphazard maze but caught
with the corner of my eye, a black shape in the sky
looking up I saw a hawk, still as a painting, against the waiting blue

suddenly, as if his strings were cut, the hawk was falling
stretching physics, and I understood
I followed Reg’s maze and saw that he had scrabbled
under our garden fence into a field, another continent

I peered through copper beeches
to find myself eye to eye with the hawk
tall, almost prehistoric, regal
in its talons was Reg, unsuspecting, a dandelion
a tortoise delicacy, in his mouth
helplessly I clapped my hands and shook the fence to scare this bird
this steel-beaked beast of muscle and iron claws
of wings longer than my arms
it screamed a human scream then, and just two beats took it
and Reg, and his dandelion
up, up and away
I was close enough to feel the wind
close enough to see that there was no blood

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