A green turtle rolls on a Galápagos beach.
It is night. She knows what she has to do:
find the best spot to dig an enormous nest
for her turtlets, snuggle them into the world,
and leave them to grow alone.
O yes, a mother must.
O, the thirst for that moist release,
the flippers that dig awkward spirals
in a sandy forest, teeming with egg-hungry
ghost crabs, and ghostly raccoons waiting
to savor the not-yet-hatched,
and seabirds beginning the countdown
to the day when hatchlings race to the water
deliciously. Survivors will live for decades, swim
limber in the blue water, with few to kill them.
Like any mom, she explores,
and wills herself to be free,
and wishes freedom upon her young: from her,
the egg, sand, and life-death. The ocean rolls
and rolls, and beckons her back.
In the heart of a crisis, in the backyard of a bad virus,
our raspberry plants moonlight as geishas.
O sweet nipples, soft in June’s hand.
O, half-spheres, raspberry towers. O,
burgundy brambles, taut as lute strings…
Won’t you come take a look, sweetheart?
Away from your makeshift and frenzied desk.
Have some berries, my love.
Have an innocent little threesome:
you, me, and the idea of eternal youth.
In the before-times, what did we do
for exiting? For existing?
Lectures, maybe; job talks, and workshops;
seminars, and more job talks. More talk, fewer jobs,
the fight to make it; the flight from jobs
that refused to marry us, and from friends…
Have some berries, my love. We could not outrun
the world. Migration did not prevent pain.
This pandemic tells us vulnerability is packed in the body.
The plants could never leave. What to learn
from them? Tan, rooted, taller than us, they sway
in the warm wind. Each berry, a small surrender.
O delight, de-fight, de-flight, come fly with me!
Eat, at long lust, be my living animal, gorging on seeds.
Olga Livshin is the author of A Life Replaced: Poems with Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman (Poets & Traitors Press, 2019). Her poems, essays, and translations appear in the Kenyon Review Online, Poetry International, Gyroscope, Mad Hatters' Review, and other journals. She lives outside Philadelphia and teaches children creative writing privately.