Two Poems by Matthew King

On the Time We Found a Three-Legged Blanding’s Turtle

Remember the time we found that turtle gallumping
across the road on three legs – the only three Blanding’s
turtle legs we’ve ever seen – and we wondered how much
of its human-length life it’d been going without
the other, how much longer it might go on like that–
maybe it’d been hiding out somewhere, healing up
since someone bit off its leg, just now ventured back out
into the open, still smiling but missing a step,
having been barely quick enough before to make it
across the road unaided, unobserved and unknown–
like decomposing sea-monsters risen from the depths,
like secrets of our viscera held tight to ourselves,
there are things first visible in the last fatal light.

A Certain Bird

I went out looking for a certain bird
who called to me in her exacting way.
She’d always known the perfect thing to say;
she’d always found it just the perfect word.
But not this time. Unnerved by what I’d heard
and fearing she’d already flown away
I sought her out in case she’d thought to stay,
in case she’d care if I was reassured.
I found what I was looking for, if not
exactly what I thought I’d meant to find:
I found a bird who’d surely made her mind
up not to speak just one syllable more,
so sure she was she’d strictly named her thought –
that certain bird I went out looking for.

Matthew King used to teach philosophy at York University in Toronto. He now lives in what Al Purdy called “the country north of Belleville”, where he tries to grow things, takes pictures of flowers with bugs on them, counts birds, canoes around Wollaston Lake on calm summer mornings, and walks a rope bridge between the neighboring mountaintops of philosophy and poetry. His poems have appeared in The New QuarterlyJuniperJam & SandThe Ekphrastic ReviewThe Daily DrunkAnti-Heroin ChicCypress, and Talking About Strawberries All of the Time. He can be found on Twitter: @cincinnatus_c_.

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