What The Tortoise Says In Response To The Man Who Pities Him For Having To Carry Around His Shell

 

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“Poor soft man, who bumps into doorknobs and bruises his hip.

The wind blasts your skin and the hail crashes, smack on your head as the rain soaks your shirt.

And the sun beats your brow and the streets that you walk on are harder than glass —

and your days are too short and your patience too thin and your breath is white-hot like the breath of all men who are violent by nature and quick to defend —

their cash with tall fences and guns fully loaded and behind every stone —

someone’s lying in wait to take what is yours, and just like your flesh, your ego is weak and bruises with words neither tender or kind —

or soothing or warm or aware of your gifts and what makes you safe is the fact that you run, and pretend what you heard —

just wasn’t said, or that what wasn’t said, was surely just said, and you feel every insult like it’s thunder on crack —

and sweet words of praise are hardest to say, so you stop ‘fore you do  —

and so anger is yours, because the nature of man is to kill and destroy, and if you don’t do the killing, you pay someone else —

who’s down out of range, out of everyone’s sight, and you take what you want, and you race through the grass and you sleep in a bed that can rise off the floor —

and the floor is well-made and it bears all your weight, as you sneak down the stairs while your clan is a’snore, and it’s hard for them all, it’s cold and austere —

and you’re always in doubt since you’re lacking a shell and without a hard shell —

you’re left all alone at the mercy of God to provide you with life and he usually does, except when he won’t, and you pray that he will —

so you drop to your knees and weep as you say —

thank you for making me a man.”

 

 

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