Someone is bringing me turtles for a biological experiment. He leaves them in a mud puddle by the side of the road, and they disappear into the mud. When I am ready to use them, I pull the turtles out of the mud, but I decide to dig more deeply into the mud, and I find other turtles there, turtles that have been living there. I find the turtles by feel and then I pull them up out of the mud. As I pull them, the suction of the mud pulls their shells apart, so that the top shell I'm holding onto disengages with the bottom shell, but this does not harm the turtles. I am amazed by how many turtles I'm finding, some of them down so far that the mud is more like solid earth.
As I work on this project, a Latino artist comes up to me and watches me work. I do not know if he talks to me, but I decide that we can use these turtles in an art project where we paint the bottoms of the turtles with wild designs. For a second, my mind goes to a study of painting turtles undershells which proved that the beasts are not harmed by this. The artist seems to think I am racist, so I explain to him that I have a beautiful Asian wife. (The artist has suddenly become Asian.) For a second, my mind goes to my Asian wife, who is standing by the island in our darkened kitchen. I wonder who this wife of mine is, since Nancy isn't Asian and we do not have an island in our kitchen.
I take the turtles to a building where we will work with them, but once I get there I find myself in charge of a project to print and assemble a literary publication. The book has one sheet that is longer that the rest, and the photocopier cannot collate that page with the rest of the pages, so I have to take each copy of that sheet and insert it near the front of the publication. Then I have to sew each page into the publication by hand.
I move the copies of the publication into a nearby room, where a number of women and children are sitting in a circle, but I keep moving back and forth between the two rooms, never quite able to bring everything I need to complete the project into the next room. My old friend Ruth is one of the people in the circle, and she is there with her two girls, who appear not to have aged at all in the past twenty years.
The women and children sit in a circle, but in clusters of women with their own children. As I move back and forth, Kathleen and Ray talk to me about the project, which is a poetry project in my mind, but an archives project in theirs.