The Turtles are Sunning Themselves

Lined up like dinner plates along a server’s arm
on the log reaching up from the lagoon’s shallows,
but the sliders slip from their sodden perch
into the drink the minute they sense me
on the crumbling path ringing the pond.
I wait a while, because they’re worth waiting for,
hoping they’ll resurface if only I’m still
as a stump. But they come by their wariness
naturally and watch me from a distance,
their necks extended like periscopes
above the water’s murk.
I think what I admire
is their naked admission that our bodies
are too soft for the dangers of this world.
I stand there a while longer, ringed in shadow
by the noon sun, watching the blurred
boats of their bodies move languidly
beneath the surface like dark thoughts.


Yvonne Zipter is the author of the full-length collection The Patience of Metal (a Lambda Literary Award Finalist) and the chapbook Like Some Bookie God. Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals over the years, including Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, Metronome of Aptekarsky Ostrov (Russia), Bellingham Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review, as well as in several anthologies.

She is also the author of two nonfiction books: Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet. She recently retired from the University of Chicago Press and is looking forward to devoting more time to her own writing.

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