Like a D. Boone-carved, killed-a-bear, beech tree
come upon by chance in the woods of East Tennessee,
Middleboro, Mass. had a turtle whose shell was incised
with the initials of those who’d caught and set it free
over decades. I.W. in 1747; S.T.,1763; E.C., ‘73—
and more. Thoreau copied the list from a town history.
Hauling up the turtle would have been like hitting a lottery.
Suddenly, you’d have fresh data about turtle longevity,
forge a link in the chain of relational continuity (prized
in New England villages), and become the author
of the story’s next chapter, sure to interest a neighbor.
Petroglyph hunting—how Thoreau had spent
his morning—may have made the turtle more significant,
the lines on its shell inscribed to tame the world’s mystery.
Hastings the Bootmaker
Rigmarole was how Thoreau described
the shoemaker’s sales pitch, after he tried
on a pair of boots made of single leather—
guaranteed unsplit. I had an eye to you when I made
them, Hastings purred, adding that they’d turn water
about as well as any. Bought and paid
for, the boots sat that night in Thoreau’s chamber,
objects—almost—of affection. But a few hours later,
put to the test in December snow, they wet
through quickly, the leather no better than paper.
When informed, Hastings was quick to reset
expectations. You can’t expect boots to turn water
at first. I tell farmers the time to buy is midsummer,
when dirt can get in the pores, sealing them like filler.
Charles Weld’s poems have been collected in two chapbooks, Country I Would Settle In (Pudding House, 2004) and Who Cooks For You? (Kattywompus, 2012), and published in many small magazines such as Amethyst Review, Better Than Starbucks, Evansville Review, Salamander, Southern Poetry Review, Sandy River Review, Blue Unicorn, Snakeskin, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, etc. A mental health counselor, he has worked as an administrator for a non-profit agency that provides treatment for youth experiencing mental health challenges, and lives in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. A full-length collection, Seringo, is due out later this year from White Violet Press (Kelsay Books).