The Turtle and the Lemur

by Shaun Terry

Turtle tracks

A giant sea turtle sat on the beach,
watching the waves smash into the rocks,
and watching them slide back and forth over the shore.
She delighted at the sight,
as fish and crabs and plants came and went.

She wanted to run into the water
to be with the other sea creatures,
bus she couldn’t remember what the water felt like.
She turned and looked toward the trees,
and she saw the happy monkeys swinging,
the squirrels dancing,
and the birds gliding from branch-to-branch.

Then, a beautiful, wise lemur sat next to her,
and asked her what was wrong.
She replied that the water looked so enchanting,
but that she couldn’t remember how to swim.

“The water is filled with perils,
and you can never know which direction
the water will choose to go.
Look at the crab: he eats the plants from the water,
and spends the rest of his time trying to escape the dangerous water.
In the water, the safest animals are those with fins,
but you have four legs, just like me,
haven’t you?”

The giant sea turtle was sad. She knew that he was right,
but she still felt a great affinity for the sea.
“But why do I long for the sea?” she asked.

The beautiful, wise lemur’s eyes lowered and tightened.
“Often, we want that which is unsafe;
many a ruin has come from wanting
that which brings great danger.
Look at the monkeys playing.
Do they seem endangered?”

“No,” replied the giant sea turtle.

“And do the squirrels not seem overjoyed?”
asked the beautiful, wise lemur.

“They do,” the giant sea turtle solemnly replied.

“Even the birds, who glide over the air,
can trust that they will safely land
on firm branches or solid grounds.”

The giant sea turtle’s neck drooped low enough
that she could smell the wet sand.
The beautiful, wise lemur felt the giant sea turtle’s pain,
and it saddened him.
“Wouldn’t you prefer to be safe?
After all, the joy that we experience in this world
depends on our survival,
doesn’t it?”

The giant sea turtle looked out at the water,
and a fish, shining in the sun,
swam up to her.
It smiled, and the giant sea turtle felt
that the fish was very happy,
and the giant sea turtle wanted to be so happy.