Volume 33, Number 4

Essential Workers

Loggerhead turtles
hatch at the bottom of a deep hole
the pregnant female dug in coastal sand.

They stir, scattering eggshell shards
in the dark. The nest is snug but the pull
of saltwater is strong.

They form a living ladder
with their bodies, clamber up and
over each other,
into moonlight and sea air.
Across beach, through tidal pool

they crawl to ocean safety, leaving
the first-hatched, the bottom rung,
who cannot make it up the shifting sand.

—CJ Muchhala