for three named Charles

My brother’s son
barely knew our father
and never heard him say
when he was young
and the sky was clear
enough so that the moon
brightened the beach,
it was all he needed
to follow her deep tracks
and see where she nested
her eggs in the dry sand.
And he would stand
looking toward the tide
and think about the day
some would know the way
and scurry toward water
to hide in sargasso weed
where they would feed
for decades until they grew
large and strong as the ones
that let him climb upon
their heavy carapaces to ride
along at labored pace
what seemed like miles
across the barren sands.

My only brother’s only son
patrols the wide shore
of a different land
searching for a single clutch
of hope from which to take
in hand and point
toward the sea enough
of the tiny leatherbacks
to keep safe for another
century the preserve
of a small posterity—
his grandfather’s near dream
of him, of them, side-by-side
astride the great sea turtles
gliding toward moonlit waves
diving like the dolphin-riding
boys of lost Atlantis
into the briny myths
of an enduring deep.

— first appeared in Slant: A Journal of Poetry