The Tortoise Is Not Big

The tortoise is not big,
Or even heavy;
He is still.
Still as stones,
His shell of bone
So hard but sensitive.
It bruises, bleeds, the keratin
Is the magnificent excess of
The same that is our fingernails.
If a ‘shell’; if you don’t think that it
Is so very much a part of him,
Think ‘why a shell?’; what animals
Do you know with a ‘shell’?
The weight of ocean molluscs
Is with him; the animal
That is shell, is ocean, ocean stone,
So still, the weight of ocean, land,
And time is with him.

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