For Niño at Coffin’s Beach

Your parents smuggled
the parts that would be you

in separate caravans
across the Rio Grande.

Now you invite me to hold
the stuffed toy mongoose

that barks against the peril
my jet lag and my Coppertone,

my bayside bacchanals
have brought your coming

birthdays. At my brother’s
memorial, they handed

you around, the only
infant at the fete. The day

steamed good and hot,
the way Mrs. Reidy

liked her pot of tea.
When you left,

the weather whipped its head
and sweatshirts crossed

our shoulders. The plumes
of my brother’s cremains smoked

over the waves, now suddenly
up, then long and flat.

Have we sooted your foam
with our permanent fiesta?

Spiked it to forever?
And will it clear

your prospects
the way a storm

once took down all
the sixty foot-high dunes?

 

 


Click here to read Tom Daley on the origin of the poem.

Image: Person holding his baby by Dominika Roseclay, licensed under CC 2.0.

Tom Daley:
The title of the poem, “For Niño at Coffin’s Beach,” prefigures the basic theme—a relatively new life that has come into being is juxtaposed against the consignment of the cremains of a relatively old person in the context of climate change. My partner and I have been adopted into an immigrant family, the young members of which do not seem shy about reproducing in a world in which the future seems assuredly troubled. At my brother’s memorial at a beloved beach, the best sign of hope was a six-month-old child of an adopted nephew. But thoughts of my/our culpability in creating the devastating warming of the planet through consumption haunted me as I considered the hope the baby inspired, leading me to wonder about the baby’s prospects.

Tom Daley
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