Castro told us how an old tortoise dies. Once he gets big a tortoise has no enemies, Castro said, and if he avoids falling over a cliff or into a lava pit too steep for escape, he dies only of old age. One day he gets to weak to move, and stops. He stays in that spot for months, sometimes, his long-practiced power of enduring, his racial skill at it, serving him long after his power to move and get food has failed. Watching leaves fall, probably, and the season change.
        Clearly Castro in his constant traveling has been able to check on an old tortoise from time to time in the process of its dying, the tortoise living only in its head and eyes, as the new tortoise in Castro's hand lived, a spark still somewhere inside, above the plastron and below the dome.

--KENNETH BROWER

[Photograph:  Tortoise, Alcedo Crater]