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Poet's Corner

The Tortoise


What did I want to do when I came back

to write — to detail the drift — two wild hares

a dead mouse, a tiny beautiful owl

one of the hares chewed up and now this —

a tortoise’s muddy back — what good

what good were those early harbingers —

fragility, death — given my helplessness

while all along the tortoise was somewhere

but where in the absence of visible water

except for run-off. The road’s ditch.

Ethel Rackin is the author of four books of poetry: The Forever Notes (Parlor Press, 2013); Go On (Parlor Press, 2016); Evening (Furniture Press, 2017); and In Time (Word Works Books, forthcoming 2025). A MacDowell fellow, she is a professor at Bucks County Community College.

Poet’s Corner is curated by Bucks County Poet Laureate Emeritus Tom Mallouk and supported by a grant to the Bucks County Herald Foundation made possible by Marv and Dee Ann Woodall.

To submit a poem for consideration, email it to If the poem has been previously published, please say where it first appeared.

Note from the curator: Poetry Lovers: please attend a special event Tuesday April 30 at the Doylestown Library hosted by The Friends of Doylestown Library. The theme is “Poetry and Repair: Poems that Heal.” This is an open mic event. Pre-registration is encouraged at

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