I watch it, this turtle, and picturea tombstone that stood here, a sculpted hoplitewearing a conical helmet and hugging his shield,and think is crawling that hoplite,his blood now colder than marble. Yes,
like the falling and budding of leaves,the lives of hoplites and turtles. In that museumdisplaying the hoplite charging, another onestationed itself at my ankle inside the caféand stretched out its neck and begged.
They have no vocal cords, but can,retracting their heads when startled, hiss.This one, I thought, unless I let a flakeof pastry spotted with spinach fall—this one,its neck a kettle’s spout, will spit and scald.
They’re everywhere, an epic transmigrationof echoes, ghosts of the myths’ one turtlescooped from its shell by Hermes,a cattle-rustling, wing-heeled toddler,who strung the shell with cow-gut—eureka!
the lyre, whose wandering pulse,which formed an ode, since lost,to one Aristonautes the hoplite, bearsa shield amid dull spears of grassand soldiers on, an urn among red poppies. [End Page 56]
DAVID HAVIRD has published poems in many journals, including Agni, Sewanee Review, Southwest Review, and Yale Review. His collection Map House appeared from Texas Review Press in 2013. He is a professor of English at Centenary College of Louisiana.