I never thought it would be the last
time I saw him.
I never thought to pet his head.
I never thought to set him on our bridge and set a cherry tomato in his line
of view, in case he needed a bite or two before his journey.
By the way, he’s named after the ninja.
The only thing I’ve learned about turtles is
they hold no loyalty.
Whenever at my grandfather’s cabin,
I take a wander on my own.
The small, light, walking type
down to our little pond to sit on the bridge.
The patch of sunlight over it is a dream.
A dream of the years’ old, bright red paint glittering.
One day I saw a deep,
deep green, softball sized circle gliding
toward my dangling boy feet.
I bolted up cement stairs
to tell Grandpa of the circle.
He nabbed Mikey just for me.
We fell in love over a pile of aspen leaves
but I told him I wasn’t hungry.
He met aspen the same day he met me.
I didn’t realize he was planning an escape with each little
bite from the elevated bridge.
He’ll be a ninja when he grows up, I’d say,
after I teach him how to hyahh!
I trotted back down from snack time
to check on him with goldfish in hand
and found an empty bridge frowning.
Austin Smith is a freshman at Rocky Mountain College in his hometown, Billings, Montana.