Strange but true is the story
of the sea-turtle and the shark-
the instinctive drive of the weak to survive
in the oceanic dark.
by hunger
from abyss to shoal,
sometimes the shark swallows
the sea-turtle whole.

The sly reptilian marine
into the shell
of his undersea craft,
his leathery head and the rapacious claws
that can rip
a rhinoceros’ hide
or strip
a crocodile to fare-thee-well;
inside the shark,
the sea-turtle begins the churning seesaws
of his descent into pelagic hell;
with ravenous jaws
that can cut sheet steel scrap,
the sea-turtle gnaws
…and gnaws…and gnaws
his way in a way that appalls-
his way to freedom,
beyond the vomiting dark
beyond the stomach walls
of the shark.


excerpted from Black Nature: Four Centuries of African-American Nature Poetry