Dolphin Speaks

An elegy to island son, Leslie Dodge Slate
Thu, 12/02/2021 - 6:30pm

Time is strange but not a stranger.
I drop to my knees
to pick out glass beads:
green for this lily pad island,
true blue for the North Atlantic
around it,
black for Black Rock,
red for that wild Aries heart of his.

A thin piece of rawhide with a
double knot
strings them together
with the center: mother-of-pearl
carved into a fish hook pork chop,
the “Block,”
those coves and cliffs of his
Trustrum, surveyor and fisherman
Albion, masterly builder and math
wiz -
the compass and the square.
Ancestral land of Manissean
wampum makers,
religious dissenters, double-enders,
rum runners and cod.
Inn keepers, peat diggers,
harpooners and English farmers
tending stonewalls.
Capt. Winfield Dodge’s horse
drawn beach wagon and Hazel’s
twin girls.
Lobster and August meteors,
Victorian porch dog, and swinging
screen door.
Swordfish with pasture butter and
corn on the cob.
Stripers running and chowdah
simmering, tidal clock and fog

The amulet is ready,
filter for evil and beauty
like his Diva Maria singing love’s
tragic betrayal
from a low G sharp up to high E
flat, ahh purified
by the lyric muse of bel canto,
the heart’s desire an end in itself.
Sweet mercy, surfs up!

I hop on my scooter
to go ride waves at Crescent.
Walking barefoot over the dune
path of rose hips and honeysuckle
I breathe in October’s cornucopia
and put my wet suit on.
It’s a New Moon low tide, the berm
is purple and wide.
Glancing to my right I notice this
dark lump ashore.
Moving closer I spy a young
dolphin in distress, unmoored
with smooth wet skin, dark gray
cape, white undersides,
pirate patch around the eye,
and unique hourglass pattern

Baptized in ancient seas with
legendary intelligence
and no sign of bodily injury,
I use my boogie board to “shovel”

the mammal,
back into its salty currency.
A startling signature whistle, some
crazy frequency for identity,
issues forth from the long slender
beak equipped with 200 teeth.
What is this maritime oracle
Its eye pulls me into the mystery -
interconnectivity of species,
that magnetic center of being,
Nature’s prophecy.
Primordial eye all-knowing,
360-degree vision,
24/7 sonar brain “seeing” Nothing
and Everything.

Yes, it worked! The wild beauty
swims in a circle to thank me.
Finally, my chance to give back
to our Blue Planet, the endless
As I leave, messenger dolphin
winds up back on the deathbed
Ugh tired, I yell for the only other
person on the beach, Christine.
We labor hard against an incoming
to deliver Delphinus into knee deep
Meanwhile Fate rings the bronze
bell 8 times.
Tiny bubbles rise, coming out of the
inscrutable mouth, rostrum.
Now on its side, that fathomless eye
closes. We both cry.
Paradise wrecked, Anchor lifts,
magic lost.
I did not “get” the creature’s last
there was no phone to call for info:

That was not an orbital “thank
but a vortex “goodbye.”
Crestfallen and washed up;
Totem dolphin stranded on “No
Man’s Land.”
At least this highly social denizen
of the deep did not die alone.
Its playful days and conscious
at the ocean’s unruly surface is
Vast blue night beckons.
I remember asking Les,
after I passed by his bunny huts,
toys, and flags:
“Why don’t you ever go to the
With his trademark shrug he
“it is too sandy.”
Now I get it -
dolphins only go to the beach to
Never the beach.
Only Zen Ocean.
Dolphin speaks.
*(Mystic Aquarium, CT)