She knew the river was far too beautiful
for her to swim in even before she started the race.
The sun, it seemed, had changed the rain to steam.
It was like a leaf as it prepares to die.
How it turns color so beautifully, how it strains
not only eyes, but lips and liver, taste and smell.
Behind her, Achilles again narrows her lead by half. A well
of reflections appears, as does the tortoise. Her demise
is certain now as she moves through the woods,
as much a river as the river itself, so slow, meandering
in the way all ancient creatures move in that final landscape.
It’s time for her to be a part of the nocturnal peace
promised so long ago, for the tortoise feels fertile now
as she enters the deep water. She feels free.
If only she were a turtle…