Sarah Wetzel

Shooting Turtles

My husband, who spent two years guarding a hut
on the border, dreams the same dream.
In it, one of his soldiers steps from behind a barrier,
begins removing his uniform. Sometimes I recognize
the soldier, he says, but I never stop him as he unbuckles
his Kevlar vest, unbuttons his gray green shirt and pants to expose
his body to the dust and breeze. In the dream,
the soldier winks, then starts running
toward the enemy. Some mornings,
my husband tells me, I’m sure it happened.
Once, when he was talking about the dream, I said, perhaps
that’s why so many artists depict Jesus stripped.
Some of us need to see the sinew and tissue
to be convinced of suffering.
Of whose suffering? my husband asked.
We drank coffee in our garden
and he said, did you know
Indonesians harvest sea turtle shells for jewelry and armor
so carefully the turtles live, burrow into the sand
until they grow back their shells.
I told him, that’s not true. A turtle without a shell is dead.
It sounds plausible, he said, shells are like fingernails or hair.
No, I said, pinching my husband’s arm. Turtle shells are skin,
as in human. Sometimes, even softer.
I said, I had your dream last night.
About the naked soldier? he asked.
Yes, except I was on the other side of no man’s land.
His bare chest in my crosshairs.

Sarah Wetzel
“Shooting Turtles” first appeared in Quiddity, Edition 3.2.