island impressions

/ June 2024

Is there confusion in the little isle?
Let what is broken so remain.

"The Lotus Eaters," Tennyson.

Running out of air, it starts to seem like a good time to come up. The dead coral doesn't notice anyways, so I slip up to scope the surface. Mask off. The gray sky’s not as dark as yesterday. Air’s fluid like water. Brings smoke in and out. Can only hope for the best these days. Darkness.

About a dozen raw chickens per pile, five piles. Rope gets pulled and the gate slides open. Some of the tigers bound in, others bask a moment before getting out of the water. Searching for the least-frozen bird. What were they worth, anyways? The cats have some dignity left, the cage didn’t take it all. Just a little tired, a little restless. Trapped.

The girl’s looking at the pig, gray coat shimmering wet. Fresh from the sea. Someone feeds the pig a fry. Pig eats it. Hands the girl a fry. Nods to the pig. Girl eats the fry. Another fry to the pig. Another fry to the girl. Back and forth. Feeding.

Motor’s catching air. Can’t drop the turbines. Cut the hull. Give it some room. But the cut’s too narrow, can’t turn all the way. Float back to the dock. Drifting.

The sound is like a rhythm escaped from its shadow-world cell and is shaking itself as a beast out of water to drop the dewy lethargy and learn to move again. It’s dark and the salt could be from the sea or from sweat. And the rhythm learns to move again and preaches to the dancers. And look at them too. Move.

I’m looking up close at the shipwreck. Coated in film, slime. Barnacles, algae. Maybe some baby coral, but it’s got no chance. Another folly at the bottom of the sea. Look down from the surface and all you see is waves. Disguises.

Another hot night again. Different types of crews crawl around the bars. Don’t seem like merely disinterested parties. Most have an eye or two. Searching.

Tortillas, beans, cheese. What else could you need? Gas station banquet. Full.

Some people dream about sailing for a while. They save up and everything and get used to being around water. Then they buy a boat and try to get to the next island over. Their spouse comes along begrudgingly. The way to the next island’s tough. Sailing’s tough. Reefs hit the hull and waves and wind work away. Problems cascade. Retreats are inevitable. You get close enough to shore, throw anchor. Wake up and your partner’s gone, took a bunch of cash. Must’ve swam. Far.

The macaw escaped days ago. Friend calls saying they’ve seen it round here. Sure enough, there it is in the tree. Finally find the neighbor himself in the yard. Casual laugh, says it’s his macaw. Really? Nothing to do but drive away. Doubtful.

Start to gather more and more bites. Sweet blood, they say. Any parasites in those suckers? Malaria, maybe. Dengue, doubt it. Worms get in the feet sometimes. Mostly just need to watch out for people. Waiting.

There’s another friend. Only know him from buying tacos. He stumbles up like a long-lost brother. And who could blame him? Everyone needs something. No harm’s likely to come from withholding, but best to slip him some bills. And look at him saunter. Relieved.

How do you like the island? Love it. Perfect.