She was a coat of arms
seasoned for the job — tough
and polished like tortoise shell.
When the women were tougher,
she’d tuck her advice-giving head
back against the executive chair,
let them try to fluff bent feathers,
watch them falling to their feet.
Then, her little turtle arms
would stretch out across the desk;
try to float a form —
a restraining order, maybe
a list of early warning signs —
but they’d keep on sleeping, sleep
hard through the sessions she’d spend
blowing on plastic ships, paper sails
rarely reaching port, and they would cry
like little children watching helpless,
dazed as she sunk their dreamboats,
sat on them, no coming up for air.
And perhaps she’d think of the little turtles
we’d kept confined to bathtubs as kids,
or of the public safety commercials
telling mother how, if she turned her back,
we could fall to sleep, slide and drown
in barely an inch of sitting water.