Tortellini Arrives at the Front Steps

by Sheila Nickerson

Not every tortoise who waddles up your driveway
brings a message. But sometimes you wonder.
Here is Tortellini, from Terrace Place—
a block away and down the hill—
coming toward your door. It took her four days,
her people say, and she has done this before.
Quickly, we discuss the patterns on her back,
the meaning of her visit, our dreams and fears.

But why aren’t we equally amazed
each day to open up the door
and find Morning standing there
dressed in gypsy clothes?
Just think how far she’s had to trudge,
what obstacles and hills to find us,
the many accidents along the way.
But there we stand, blank,
looking past her for the news
printed, wrapped in orange plastic,
tossed onto our driveway as we slept.


Sheila Nickerson, a former Alaska Poet Laureate, is a resident of Bellingham, Washington. Her poetry has been widely published in magazines, anthologies, and chapbooks. Her nonfiction titles include Disappearance: A Map, Midnight to the North, and Harnessed to the Pole: Sledge Dogs in Service to American Explorers of the Arctic, 1853-1909 (University of Alaska Press, 2014).

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