On his stomach, head to one side, where
the land is too far, sea too near.
My child slept like that under a white
cotton blanket, in her crib. I’d stay near.
Sometimes, I’d place a finger under her nose
to check for breathing. How’s that for near?
This child. Mediterranean blue waves
for blankets, crib of damp sand. No father, mother near.
His parents, like others, fled war, paid a smuggler, packed
into a dinghy, waves, collapsing, neared.
My fingers keep clicking keys on a laptop: snapshots
and then words, under them like a sandy bottom, near.
I see how refuge is sheltered in refugee.
Should be that easy, in any language, to come near.
I see the red shirt, blue shorts, and those sneakers.
How many see their toddler floating near?
How many shouted at the glass screen? A red-vested
officer takes photographs. Another walks near.
Hurry. Pick him up. Check for breathing.
Carry him in your arms, bring him near.