June 15, 2012 by The Citron Review
The smooth backs of the turtles shone on the bank of Lums Pond in the late afternoon light, each groove of their design outlined in black, a pattern, or maybe that’s just what we wanted to believe, slowing the minivan down to peer at them through tinted glass. The angry crunch of rubber on gravel set one of the moping bullfrogs groaning, sounding the alarm, and I watched the backs of the turtles plink into the water like Olympic divers, their heads nodding as if in agreement above the current. Mom slowed down, rolled down the window. The branches of a willow tree scraped the top of the van.
“They’re like little people,” she said.
“No,” I said, “they’re like turtles.”
It was a state park, the kind of park with office buildings and highway visible on all sides. We’d always assumed the pond to be a natural landmark, but if we’d done our research we’d find that the whole park was four city blocks at one point, foundations ploughed out of the ground to make room for the large oval of water, trenched deep enough to replicate nature. Mom stopped the car, shutting the engine off. We used to go there often, a long time ago, when I was small enough to see the stagnant puddle as a lake, not to mind the white-tufted lumps of goose poop dotting its shore. I would sit, and I would fish, casting my line over and over again as far as my stubby arms would allow, and my mother would sit, and wait for me to catch one of the tiny wriggling trout carted in from some farm a long way off. We would then cut it loose, and watch trout flutter back into the water, see it disappear beneath the algae.
I wondered after the fact if it would have mattered to her that the park was a fake, that the trout were as tame as dogs, if she would’ve cared as I did. I had a feeling she wouldn’t, but never asked. The bullfrog stopped moaning, but the turtles still bobbed in and out of the current, survivors of a shipwreck, lunging greedily for the opposite shore.
Margot Miller’s poems and stories have appeared in Overkill. Director and playwright, her stage adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper was produced in 2009, and her one-act based on a Frost poem appeared in 2008. She has also directed Gum and The Mother of Modern Censorship (Karen Hartman), Little Eyolf (Ibsen), and The Merchant of Venice.