Yesterday, I found an empty turtle shell
On a leaf-littered trail by the ancient river.
Light flooded the inside
Like a tunnel through a yellow-painted mountain.
My eyes said, “No one is home”
And yet, a part of me was unconvinced.
Holding my breath, I bent down to pick it up
Hand and body ready to retract.
How often do I live this way —
Frightened to see what’s really here?
Scared to reach toward what I do not know?
Eager to hide from the truth?
Smooth and heavy in my cupped hand
The carapace was picked-clean
Vertebrae resembling some mystical symbol;
A rune, a spell, a skeleton key.
All I know is this:
There was movement within that vacant shell.
A gentle lifeforce.
A flowing river.
The bones of an unknown song.
Today, the shell sits on my bookshelf
And I shiver each time I walk by
Half-wondering when invisible legs
will carry it along.
This subtle haunting will continue for weeks
Until, one day, the song becomes clear:
Death is not real.
We’re all just learning how
To lay down our armor
Embody the current
Disappear into the light.
— Ashley Walshe