This morning fifteen turtles or more graze on seaweed near the shore. They pay no attention to me. Fearless, they are back from the brink.
In natural museums their Triassic fossils, more pterodactyl than turtle, hang in long knuckled suspense. They’re swimming again and feeding in Maui.
They nest at French Frigate Shoals. Their hatchlings are black as magnetite and oriented to an ancient map. They race from the hungry shallows to the open sea.
In the middle of the sea they grow brown and long for a home. They were the first Hawaiians, before kanaka maoli, before the people found them so delicious.
I watch them surface again and again with a hexagon scale above each eye holding a pentagon piece of the puzzle like a bindi-eye in the middle of the forehead.
Too old, too out of balance to dance, I lack the protocol of drums. I count instead the random heads and focus on rubato in the falling waves.
Jim Willis has a master’s in English from Tulane University and has published poems in The Tulane Review,DMQ Review,Ekphrasis,Melic Review, Snowy Egret, and Hawai’i Pacific Review. He won the 2003 Frith Press Open Chapbook Competition with a collection called The DarwinPoint.