Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A mother flatback turtle lays her eggs in the sand.
The eggs hatch and the young make their awkward,
frantic way towards the sea.
We've seen this scene in countless nature programs
which always play up the perils of being small and weak
in a world where you are food for everything.
The camera crew follows one little turtle
as it hurries through some puddles.
The ground is bumpy, the going slow.
From out of the shallow water
stretches the tentacle of a tiny octopus,
scarcely bigger than the hatchling. It wraps itself
around the turtle's body. The baby wriggles free
but the octopus keeps throwing its arms
around and around like lariats
and finally drags its prey under for good.
Why do I keep watching? Do I really need
one more reminder that nature is cruel and arbitrary,
that the only gods with any leverage
are the gods of luck and chance?
The octopus is beautiful, with its dark, graceful limbs,
each undulating like a separate being.
The crew films it all, then to try to soften the horror
by escorting a luckier baby, walking beside it
to fend off the birds until it staggers into the surf,
where thousands of other dangers await it
as it spreads its flippers and soars
gracefully into the current.

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