January 2, 2014

Matthew Murrey

BOX TURTLES FUCKING

Hurry, come see. He
was standing on his stubby back legs,
the concave shell of his yellow belly
pressed snug to the round rock
of her dark back.
We knew.
His little front feet were scrabbling
for a hold. His neck
was extended, stretched taut
and pulling a look of pure
lust on his face that made us—
thirteen and fourteen—laugh and snort.

We’d never seen two turtles doing it,
but there they were. Man,
he was jazzed and desperate
like he’d taken a baited hook
in the beak and was being hauled
up by the face, all that urge
dragging him out of his shell,
tugging him to stand and grimace
and grab on. We’d read somewhere
that sometimes the male will fall
backwards when he’s done,
and stuck on his back like that, will die.

I could live with that;
though I figured it’d be a long time
before I’d get so hooked. Sometimes
it seemed the want and wait
would drive me nuts.
God knows
those turtles were caught up
in the sheer, raw draw of it.
I might’ve watched and grown
hushed, like someone bedside
at a death or a birth. Oh, I did watch,
and watch, but like the dumb fuck
I was, all I managed to do was laugh.

[download audio]

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013

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Matthew Murrey: “I’ve been writing with determination since 1986. In high school I fell in love with words: camping with the Boy Scouts in the mountains of North Carolina, I wanted to be Wordsworth, and while serving Mass as an altar boy, Hopkins was my hero (not a bad pair to admire!). I’ve changed a lot since then—the Boy Scouts would probably kick me out, and I kicked myself out of religion a long time ago—but I still want to convey in words what it is to be alive and human in these crazy times, and someone has to do it—so why not me?” (matthewmurrey.weebly.com)