Why the Turtle
As we walked single-file down the narrow, shell-lined path from
the only house on Botany Bay island to the beach, the moon was
rising, a brilliant and translucent crimson, close enough to brush
its cheek with your fingertips. But tonight it was not the "man
in the moon". The moon rose as a regal woman from a throne,
with grace and measured movement, with a sense of tranquility,
serene in her fullness and radiance, as a giver of life.
The moon went from crimson to deep gold. Virginia, our next-to-youngest
daughter, stopped suddenly and for no apparent reason. She turned
slowly the whole way around, stretching her arms out wide. In
silence, one by one, we each did the same thing. No one spoke,
and there in the reverence of that silence, Virginia whispered,
"It's as if tonight, from here, we can see the whole way
around the world."
And, we could...
By the time we reached the beach, the moon was noonday-bright.
In the twenty-five years that I have come here, with and without
the children, we had made many such pilgrimages. Often, we had
helped "the turtle lady" birth the baby turtles and
then stood guard over them as they frenetically made their
way to the sea. But never had we ever seen a mother turtle nesting.
Tonight would be different. The moon had promised us that, and
so had the magic "turtle lady".
She came, as we knew she would, the mother turtle. She made several
starts before she chose the sacred ground where she would dig
her nest with her flippers and lay her precious eggs. Quietly
and slowly, we flattened ourselves on the soft warm moon-lit sand.
Because she was digging a hole, we could see from under her. We
watched, awe-stricken, as her body contracted and as each soft,
thick-skinned egg dropped into the waiting nest.
When she had given up all of her eggs, she began to cover the
nest, stopping intermittently to rest her body and her spirit,
which seemed drained and depleted--empty.
As she hauntingly dragged herself back to the ocean, by the light
from the moon, we could see the legendary tears.
Most people believe she cries from the pain of giving birth. Others
say she's cleansing her tear ducts. But with all my heart, I,
believe that it is because as she crawls back to the sea and lets
the water wash over her, with the ocean reabsorbing her, she is
crying because she will never ever see her babies.
Sculpture and verse © by: Alyse Lucas Corcoran
Icons of Charleston