Separated from their home range, Map Turtles will attempt

to return to the place where they were born.


The map turtle riding in the backseat of my car

doesn’t understand that I am taking her home.

She is pawing, rhythmically,


at the corner of her crate, just as she has been

doing for the last three months while her shell

re-grew under the pink epoxy


the rehab staff has applied. She is a hefty chunk,

the biggest book on my library shelf. She is

the unabridged OED,


all of Bullfinch’s mythology. She is the best part

of the only creation myth that I can believe in,

for I have seen turtles rise


from an icy pond to fan their feet in the first thin

rays of sun. Together, we are looking for the place

where she was born,


that section of land that she knows better than any

other. I turn off the radio, concentrate on the map.

The news is always the same anyway—


everyone trying to be somewhere else. But, tonight

I’m grateful to the intern who noted the mile marker

where she was found


and added this little sketch—three boulders on a tiny

beach where the water often meets the road. I park

the car, turn on the flashers,


and then balancing the crate on the guard rail, I swing

each leg over and lift the crate down to the creek bed.

When I lift the door,


she startles for just a moment, and then steps out,

turning her head left and right. She is making hard

decisions. I glance over my shoulder


to check on the car—it’s a tight turn, a narrow road.

When I look down again she is gone. Simply gone.

I push aside the weeds,


the honeysuckle, but she is nowhere to be found.

I imagine a slight ripple in the water—once again,

she has returned to myth.


I watch for a moment, then fold the map, return

to the car, turn off the flashers and set

the GPS for home.