A month before this summer started, I drove to my hometown to run on roads I ran on when I was young, to trade my usual route on city streets for hills, stone walls, wide barns, farmhouses, cows there munching grass, empty fields. A warm, soft day, and I was feeling fine, air in and out of my lungs, feeling well carried by the muscles in my legs, ponytail at swish across my shoulders. Some miles in, near a vernal pond, a turtle had been crushed, freshly so, run over by a car. I stopped to look. Flipped upside down, the base of its shell was smooth, amber colored, and cracked. The under rim of its top shell was striped with red, and the red of its blood on the road was a red shocking in its aliveness. I crouched to get a better look. A small pile of its guts, propelled out of its body, lay shining a few inches away, coiled like a little heap of earthworms.
I am no haruspex, no augur. I cannot read the future in the splay of viscera across the cratered cement of a suburban back road. I crouched by this small dead thing on a day in the lead up to summer when the world was on the verge of bursting, emerging in its lush summer dress like a girl coming down the stairs in a gown. I crouched by the turtle and a car or two sped by and I wondered, is this what normal people do?
Guts on the road and there’s no telling what will happen, and here again we’re back to talk of what it is to be at home with question marks, the struggle of not getting crushed and cracked open by the press of immediate need. It’s hard knowing what you want because in it there’s the risk you might not get it.
This morning, at the bottom of my bag, I found a slip of paper, a fortune from a fortune cookie. You have both a lot of ideas and the energy to put them into action. I do not remember seeing this before. I have no idea where it came from. But I am grateful for the timing of its appearance.
Done examining the turtle, I rose, continued on my run.
Before my heartrate had a chance to rise again, another chance for
prognostication, this time in the form of a frog who’d also been flattened by a
car, the entirety of its guts squeezed out of its mouth. Poor small friends,
crushed when the world was warming again, on the move when the season was new.
The risk of wanting, the risk of waking up to change. There were these two, the
future in the angle of their intestines, and what I can see from it now, what
those guts tell me now: there were others I couldn’t see, ones who’d made it
safe across the street, to live and thrive in the face of all the risks.
[Two Turtles by Shibata Zeshin]