Crossroads

At the crossroads I watch a turtle
Crane her neck in three directions:
The swamp, the stream, the marsh.
Cars pass, and though there is a stop sign
Few stop; fewer notice that I
Am crossing guard
To a box turtle.
I wait. I watch. Nobody stops.
I lift the turtle and place her
Near the stream,
Sure I have done the wrong thing.
Sure, in fact, that I have interfered
With the unfolding of natural history
In this place.
I am a cataclysm in the life of this
Turtle who feels the cool
Of my shadow and will not come out.
No, indeed. She will not assure me that I done good:
I have kept her alive for a few minutes longer
Than she might have been at the end of the long century.
Good for me. I feel like a fool. What have I done?
For a few minutes at the end of a long century,
I can't help thinking,
I might have braved it and followed her across the road.

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