The Grapevine Art & Soul Salon

Museum: Place of the Muses

A salon chamber dedicated to Ivan Edwin Lester, 12/29/48--03/14/07

The photo is one made of Ivan on the Georgia coast where he collected bits of Spanish moss and wove them into his beard.

Among Ivan's many ways of being in the world was an unconditional respect for "all his relatives," as some Native Americans also call creatures that inhabit the world with us. He was not always so uncritical of his own species. Here is a poem he wrote, dated 7/23/89.


Turtles tote their own houses
and they keep their own counsel
they move like ballerinas
in Oregon boots

they move like big fat men
equipped with beaks and chins
they bury their eggs again
and again

and wish them luck
and lumber back to the sea
lonely sailors
sailing alone along the dark Pacific night

invade my morning thoughts like Panzer tanks
they have gunsight eyes in their turretgun heads

they are the most human of all the reptile kind
so clumsy
so unlike the elegant snake, all tail
all marvelous flexible metal
so unlike the lizard quick and blue
and striped with red
sunning on a redbrick wall

I would be reluctant to eat turtle soup
I would rather eat Republicans
turtles are closer
turtles are more human

turtles are my relatives
across the impossible fence

for Reptilia
and Mammalia
touch at no point
my family is scattered into many distant kingdoms

If I were a turtle I believe that I
would miss me
I would long for hair and for the long long bones
of my folding flapping skeleton
of mantis joints and hinges

and yet it must feel safer
to live in armor always
maybe we’ll make a trade someday


Copyright ©2011 Barbara Knott. All Rights Reserved