Daniel G. Fitch - Totem
The migration grows longer every generation. The beaches of our time stretch further, pulled by forces we don’t understand. My mother struggled up the beach of her mother’s back to lay her eggs which begat me and my sisters, just as we flail our helpless way up her sandy shore, what seems like eons later.
I remember the amazing flash of light when I pecked my way out of the egg, the sudden shock of existence; it’s all in my memories, faded but with that glow these things get, a pleasant scent remembered. Someday soon my children will feel this too.
As I thrash my weakened flippers into the sand, I can feel the stable patterns of my mother’s shell deep below me, vast and perfect. My shell echoes hers, like my sisters, each a tiny subtle echo of that pattern, tracing back the lineage forever.
My sisters and I will soon lay our clatch of eggs, each one a child destined to crawl atop us and continue the cycle. I cannot hold in my mind how many distant cousins I have, branching backwards, across the unknown beaches of memory and into the seas of deep time. I know only my part in this grand pattern, and my shell will live forever after my body ceases to function, stacked on my mother’s, with hers on her mother’s. The echoes of the plates and creases will carry downward, to my children and grandchildren, an infinite regress.
I lay my eggs, knowing my time is coming to an end. This shore will soon be lifeless, but the one I carry on my back will flower with my offspring. I breathe deeply and close my eyes. It is finally time to know peace.