A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2007, vol 3 no 2

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Robert Hecht

In Harm's Way

We’re a gang of 10-year-olds looking for action along the banks of the Hog River. The rushing brown water is loud, the river swollen with spring runoff. We spot a large turtle swimming with the current a few yards offshore. Its craggy, gray shell looks ancient. We run beside the river, following the beast—and someone gets the idea to throw rocks. Whenever one bounces off the shell, we whoop and holler. We choose larger and larger stones. I find a heavy, round one and throw it like a shot put. It lands dead center on the turtle’s back, cracking its shell and exposing reddish flesh beneath. I suddenly feel sick to my stomach. Our whooping stops as we watch the turtle drift downstream.

sticky night
mom and dad yelling
through the wall