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The Heron’s Nest

a haikai journal ...


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Volume VI, Number 5: June, 2004.
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Editors’ Choices • Commentary • Haiku Pages:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 • Index of Poets


Heron’s Nest Award


    starlit sky —
    I touch a turtle
    before it enters the sea
                                       K. Ramesh

On a certain night, with a certain tide, and a certain phase of the moon, a turtle comes back to the very same beach where it broke through its own eggshell, climbed up through the sand, and scuttled to water. This female sea turtle has been away for anywhere from one to three decades. Upon returning, she crawls across the sand to a place she somehow knows is above the high-tide line. She may repeat the process from one to six more times throughout spring and summer. Each time, eggs will be laid in a hole scooped by legs better suited for graceful, powerful swimming strokes. When depleted of eggs, she will return to the sea and may swim thousands of miles away from the nesting place. After two or three years, the breeding female will come back to the beach, within a few hundred yards of her previous nests, to continue her ancient line. Miracle and mystery.

K. Ramesh has felt kinship with this process of nature. His touching the huge reptile has not affected the egg laying or the turtle’s return path to the sea. She is oblivious to all but completion of reproduction. The writer has added this experience to a part of himself. Touch sends the animal home again, perhaps with his blessing.

When turtles first evolved from other reptiles to live in the sea, the patterns of stars were different; none of our named constellations were even recognizable. Sea turtles swam with some dinosaurs and nested on beaches where others walked and roared in the night. One hundred and eighty million years ago. The seven species in today’s oceans range from a hundred pounds to well over a thousand—smaller than their ancestors yet, for the most part, unchanged in the last ten to twenty million years. The males never return to land, procreation taking place in the ocean. Females must return to the sand.

I admire the effortless language Ramesh has used. In the dark of the moon, the eternity of the stars is invoked. Although he mentions himself, the reader can easily be substituted. The words “touch” and “turtle” have an affecting musical smoothness. The last line portrays his need to touch before this ancient beast disappears in the dark water. The “sea” is an open, well-chosen, end-sound that brings the reader or listener of the haiku back to stars and “sky.” In so few words, this poem sets the stage, shows the action in brief, and leaves me there as a partner on a beach, pondering this infinite mystery of nature. Life will find a way.

K. Ramesh has been witness to a timeless act. I have enjoyed sharing it with him . . . under the stars.



Paul MacNeil
June 2004


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