Turtle

written during my time in India

In time

One. Two. Three. Four.

HUMPH.

Four thick legs pressed into a gravelly ground and a up rose a big fat shell. And so was the wheel of another day a little turtle inched across a deserted terrain.

At this time, the turtle was living in a very much mental damp. It was hard to wish to walk, willing and willing just didn’t do, and often times the shell would win the battle and there the turtle would slump, huddled inside himself for a while. 

This was an inner outer damp. It started deep inside the turtle’s badumping heart, and sifted out the sweat crystals on his back, dripped through the baby holes of his sense organs, twinkled down his extremities, and evaporated into a deserted wasteland, orange and sun-drenched, tumbling flatland for miles and miles. 

The sight was blurry and distorted by the heat, the brightness of the sun shrouded in a suffocating feeling. 

This was sometimes absolutely fine because turtles are shelly and know how to hide away.  

This was sometimes alternately stressful because this turtle, our turtle, had a migration to pursue. 

Somehow, the turtle had got into its’ head that simply moving the way turtles do wasn’t good enough. The little guy craved speed, and the craving had gotten so bone-clenching deep that he often was shivering in self-disgust in his heavy shell cave, depleted by his own slowness.

He wanted to move easily in and out of his shell. He wanted to create a magical scenario, a turbo turtle. Power and rocket ships were the forefront of his thoughts. Somehow he figured the answer may be in the distance somewhere.

Such big dreams! This turtle had a long road to travel. On the days when slow and steady felt good and powerful, our little turtle traveled with ease. On days when rabbit’s whizzed by full speed, our little turtle grew very discouraged and heavy and sometimes didn’t even dare poke out of the shell. No head, no legs, not today. And like a little planet, he would sit on the dusty road.  

Then one day, amid one of the turtle’s longer breaks, he started to feel much heavier than usual. So heavy in fact, that he peeked his head out to check the tip top of his shell. To his outright amazement, a giant planet, an actual, spherical anomaly, was balancing on his rugged husk. He took the planet to be quite an embarrassment; how had he not felt it coming? Was outer space out to get him now too? He let out a loud, monstery sound,an authoritative burgle and gurgle, the entity of complaint. He looked around quickly to see if anyone had noticed. Turtle was immediately frazzled at the thought that others may see him juggling the extra weight. But no one was around.

He lifted his little chubby arms and tried to grab the thing, but he just couldn’t reach. He craned his neck as best he could and blew on the planet. He blew and blew, he imagined himself as a big big wolf, but it just wouldn’t do. He shouted for help; but any rabbits who may have heard had long since passed him on the dusty trail.

The planet stayed balanced on the brink of his existence, so the turtle scooped his head back inside himself and tried to ignore the squish.

Squish.

Squish.

The turtle couldn’t take it for very long and reeled his neck back out in the open with a hissing spatting out of his mouth. For all he was worth, he spat and he hissed and he shouted at that planet. He willed it to leave, he begged for its mercy. He imagined its death, and, finally, he crumpled in defeated misery.

All our turtle could possibly do at that moment was sit.

And squish.

And sit.

His breath was laboriously thin. The backs of his eyelids glittered in dizzy fragments of light. He legs were so impossible to keep tucked that he found them splatting out from his shell, his head rolled out also.

And the planet just rested there, like an unwanted buddy.

The turtle braced his feets, he tried to roll over. He swung his neck forward, craving even a single inch of progress. All the while, he blamed and berated the stupid planet, for resting on his shell, for making him immobile. 

For some funny reason, no rabbits whizzed passed.

Nobody.

Turtle looked around. Turtle sniffed the air. He smelled burning. And he heard, what was that? Indeed, a little tiny squeal for help. Looking down in alarm, the turtle saw in front of him, (how had he not seen it before?!)

a beautiful caterpillar, scrunched up three times. Each of his humps was being burnt up by the hot hot sun, and his nostrils were flaring with fiery breath. He was facing the turtle directly, and they looked at each other in amazement.

“You, too, some difficulty?” whispered the catty.

“Me too, me too,” the turtle surrendered empathetically.

“Can I crawl under your shell, can you take care of me?” The turtle had so little space, he couldn’t imagine dealing with more under his shell. 

“No friend. But here.” 

Turtle spat on the caterpillar and the water sprayed across his scrunched back. 

“Oh, thank you” the caterpillar yelped in surprise. His whole back was glistening, he relaxed his scrunches for a moment and his breathing got slower. 

After some time had passed, the turtle thought to ask the caterpillar some more questions. He had thoughts about where this little guy came from. He wanted to know what made the caterpillar feel so stuck. He wanted to know how a caterpillar would find himself in such a burning situation. Turtle was curious, why did the caterpillar start his journey? What made the caterpillar get to this place? 

Turtle wondered about the caterpillar’s existence.

Turtle spent some time thinking about his knowledge of caterpillars.

Turtle digressed with himself on the difficulty of each of their situations…

Hmmmm. said his thoughts.

Hmmmmmmmm

Hmmm————

Caterpillar sneezed. And just like that, turtle saw before his very eyes caterpillar disbanding into beads of sweat crystals, evaporating into the humid air. If turtle had eyebrows, they were raised all the way up into his thick thick skull. He watched the wind blow any last twinkles of water all around the turtle, until they fell slowly, resting with gravity and laying to dry on the scorching ground.

For a while turtle laid in silent confusion, all alone, a splat of jiggly arms and legs and neck. A heavy head, facing a disintegrated catty. His organs sat like gelatin underneath the crushing shell, ever held still by the large swirling planet. 

After lying quite still for a number of minutes, turtle’s tummy grumbled and rumbled and the little guy let out a hearty belch. Turtle, impressed and somewhat frustrated by his own aliveness, spiraled his neck and laid exhausted facing his new planet companion. He noticed after sometime that the blue/gold colors merging in the planet were moving in concentric circles, and he felt hypnotized. He found exhaustion settling in, and began to murmur to the planet some of his thoughts.

Who are you….

Why now…

Why at all…

What is it that you want…

Slowly, turtle fell asleep into a deep dream.

So deep was this dream, in fact, that turtle found the back of his head dipping into the desert road. Turtle’s head sunk down down down through layers of orange rock and gravel. His neck elongated like a rubber band, stretching as the weight of his head took him towards the center of the earth while his body floated on the dusty road in the reality above. Things started to get darker, and he felt the crumbling of earth all around him. He heard women’s voices, somewhere distant, chanting softly, as though love was being reverberated throughout the earth’s innards. He found himself whispering the chants too, unaware of the words, but knowing them in his heart of hearts. Turtle’s head continued to burrow down, like a heavy, committed drill, and he started to feel heat and his temples began to pulse loudly. The chanting got louder and louder. The heat grew hotter and hotter. Down his head went, taken into a momentous gravitational pull, as the heat burned into a flaming roar, more felt than seen, the turtle squeezed his eyes shut tighter and tighter. He moved his head left to right in discomfort, in agonized curiosity, the chanting climaxing in a deafening roar, until, quite suddenly, he jolted awake. His head flew up through the rubble at rapid speed and he found himself facing towards his shell, the chanting and the earthy descent fading, lost to his subconscious as the sky and the swirling planet came into focus. Turtle relaxed his neck, his head releasing in a soft badump, and he found himself again, back on the migrate dusty path of his lost purpose. 

Things were so quiet.

The longer our little turtle laid splat like that, the more the wind sounded like a whisper. Barely any other sound could be heard. For a while, edging towards eminent delirium, turtle thought he could even hear the clouds congealing and dissipating, with hmmmm’s and haaaaa’s. A lone tree that he couldn’t even see was twinkling its four or five leaves in the far off distance. The branches were creaking and the roots were tickled by little spurts of water coming underground.

He started counting.

One foot. Two foot. Three toe. Four nail. Five leg. Six arm. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.

Eleven. rumblerumble.

Twelve. grumblegrumble.

Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen. Sixteen.

Chugachugachugachug. Seventeeneighteennineteentwenty.

Brakes. eeeeeeerk. 

Twenty-one.

A truck stopped next to turtle. 

Twenty-two. And turtle looked to his right.

Three burly men, wrapped in scarves and with only their eyes to be seen, looked at the turtle and his planet. Turtle looked back at his planet and, in amazement, saw that it had shrunk down to just his size. 

Turtle was so shocked, he didn’t hardly move.

It was then that one of these men, with two big fingers, pinched the planet and tried to pull it off the turtle’s back, just like that.

Nope. That planet stuck like a sore thumb to a hand. 

So the scruffy guys plucked up the planet, turtle attached, and wrapped the whole duo in a layer of sandy scarf. Turtle and the planet dropped into some kind of sack and before much else could be processed, they were up and away on the badumping truck, heading towards the nowhere turtle had always dreamed of.

Something was shifting in the little turtle’s skull. Perhaps it was the crash of the wheels as they hurdled over mini bumps in the flatland. 

But perhaps it was also something less logical. For as the truck continued onward, the turtle felt in his belly of bellies a churning, as if the planet were seeping inside of him. He looked around himself, but all was dark. His big thick legs and his clawing toes reached out for the planet, trying to ground himself in his problem. He had a problem. He was stuck to a planet. Right?

Turtle gave up after some time and his whole body went quite limp. Again, the sensation of churning started in his deep deep tum. 

He felt his shell was starting to go soft.

The outer layer getting soupy and spongy. 

Falling into the inner layer.

And then, there was just no mistaking it. There in that pouch, rumbling along at rapid speed on the dusty trail of his purpose, that little turtle started to become one with his planet. The swirling spiraling circles began to dip into him and met with the churning of his stomach. His shell crickled and crackled and seeped off his back like dandruff, like shaving his own head. The planet filled his innards void, the deep deep part that can only be felt when one sits quietly enough. 

And turtle surrendered.

And turtle grew heavy.

And turtle grew to twice his size.

And turtle felt the planet inside of him start to sing a beautiful melody.

The backs of his eyelids played his memories, and they all dissipated, drifting away just like his hard, hard shell.

And turtle noticed a marvelous thing. He noticed his he-ness. He noticed his solar power. He saw his own masculinity and he looked at it. It was also deep inside of him, yet as the planet churned his innards, as the singing chorused, and as the truck badumped, turtle saw his own he-ness start to swirl as well. 

After some time, he-ness was transformed. And she-ness was there. And she was turtle. And she was he-ness too, but she knew he-ness was only one part of the whole, only solar. And she knew there was another, lunar side to things.

Turtle slowly let he-ness and she-ness relax, the planet grumbling in delight in the pits of him. thank you. it seemed to say. you have allowed me, and you are a very nice home. 

When the truck stopped sometime later, much of turtle’s journey felt like a cloud, imprinted in the past, all fluffy and magical, faded and etched, like pale streaks drifting along a clear, blue sky. 

Turtle felt herself getting lifted up out of the sack and the scarves of her captors unraveled to show the beautiful faces of three wise women with dazzling eyes, full lips, and raw piercing energy. 

And so three humans and one turtle, the four she-ers, sat together and looked at each other and turtle took in the darkness, a new dampness; the powerful vibration of a cave. Looking around, she saw they had found themselves in a beautiful, crystalline earth, hidden from the sun, satisfied with its own deep crimson, the floor oscillating with the beating pulse of Mother Earth.

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