The Night Before Christmas

Written by N.J. Purcell on December 7, 2017

A wood turtle in the Estey’s Bridge area. Photo by Lisa Gorham.

The Night Before Christmas Copyright © N. J. Purcell

For the turtles and people of Estey’s Bridge, New Brunswick

’Twas the night before Christmas
And down by the stream
A turtle was having
A terrible dream.

Hard but fair questions
A hundred or more
Were not being answered
By whom they were for.

No one would touch them
“That’s not what we do!
Be thankful we’re working
In such ways for you!”

The questions kept mounting
They weren’t “playing nice”;
So a lawyerly elf was
Brought in for advice.

“They’re pretty good questions!”
He said with a grin
“If you don’t take my counsel
They’ll do you all in!”

He was dressed all in fur
From his tail to his foot
And what clothes he was wearing
Were tarnished with soot.

The stump of a pipe
Was clenched tight in his teeth,
Spewing smoke that encircled
His horns like a wreath.

“Your cage has been rattled.
“Your bells have been rung.
“Now how to save face?”
He asked, forking his tongue.

“When you’re backed into corners
“And the going gets tough:
“Don’t admit! Don’t deny!
“I can’t say this enough!”

Then he pounded his trident.
Setting off quite a clatter,
Causing casements to fissure
And windows to shatter.

“Come, Willful! Come Blindness!
“Come Serge, Kelli, Perry!
“Come ‘Don’t Ask!’ and ‘Don’t Tell!’
“Come talk-show-host Terry!”

More rapid than eagles
These coursers now came
As he texted, and tweeted,
And called them by name.

They posed for group selfies.
With whoops, shrieks, and whistles
Then rocketed skyward
Like heat-seeking missiles.

The elf was heard smirking
Just ere he, too, flew:
“You’ll be damned if you don’t!
You’ll be damned if you do!”

But this was discounted.
He must have misspoke!
How totally unlike
So tip-top a bloke!

There are nightmares we wake to.
And nightmares we dream.
So which was the turtle’s
Down there by the stream?

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