Hovering in Florida’s bastard equivalent of Cuba’s Bayamo, I pause, blinking at brackish blue skies that could only be produced by the production of products as I grip the pile. Bowing my head, I pray the violent wind burst won’t force the race into postponement. Another delay would take me over the brink. Nature’s sudden intake, undoubtedly pausing to catch her breath before the next onslaught, allows me to pell-mell it down the pier to the skipjack that shuttles to and fro the Straits of Florida. I board cautiously; ever wary of my tendency to topple, leery of the murky waters below.
The hollow husk bobs skittishly. Stowing bag and phobia, I stretch onto a cushioned bench, settling in for few breaths before being plagued with day touristers and crew. My hand tickles and licks at the water’s lapping surface an impromptu muted melody that articulates pensivity. The notes coalesce into composition. Schumann’s Albumblatter channels to fingertips dabbling on the brink of conscious thought, skittering on the elastic veneer that allows my water-skater-sanity to copulate.
Bits of sun pas de chat across the water’s ripples, then tour grand jete back to their source. Pillowed clouds partner one another past an azure backdrop from one horizon to the other. The gradually receding current a low rolling bass accentuated with the cymballic crash of blue liquid on gray rock. Water thumb-rolls the shell of the craft, cracking and vibrating the cadence of the tide. A feathered orquesta charanga winds its way through the palms, lulling me into a Christmas Eve truce with myself. A silver blade shimmies in the water, just out of reach, then flits into the depth . . . a tongue . . . down into the deep chasms, dipping and swirling, rolling, pressing . . . glimpse of cerulean eyes just at my pelvic bone . . . A gust from the gulf tugs at languorous locks. The soft slurp of water seeping in and out, in and out . . . flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. . . Rhythmic rocking up… down… up… down. A long, sustained ”caw” solos into the wildness, articulates life and joy . . .
I want you here,
I want you . . .
“Don’t people go crazy? Trapped on that island? Water on all sides?”
“No! It’s great. When you stand on the rocks at Taylor beach… it’s not very glamorous. It’s not a groomed beach, not for tourists … well, it wasn’t anyway. Could’ve changed. But when you stand there … There’s nothing but different hues of blue. Then you go out on a boat … you’re on the horizon. You look down and you could get out and walk … You’ll just love- I can’t wait until you see it.” I twist around to rub at the shades of auburn in his morning stubble. “You’ve got a white hair… right here.”
He flinches away from plucking fingers. “I have several. . . cunningly hidden below the surface of my generally clean shaven face. I should get moving. Do you miss it? Want to move back?”
“I’d love to live there again,” too much vulnerability, a high wire act of unanswered questions about the future. “It’s expensive. I would need a good job.”
“You want to paint. Seems like the perfect backdrop.”
“I’m a cop…”
“They don’t have cars? No pickpocketers or jaywalkers in Key West, aye? A true paradise.” His catnip nibble on my breast had the same effect as his tone.
“You can’t just transfer. I don’t want-- Anyway,” don’t say it. Don’t ask. Don’t set yourself u--- “would you go with me????” A guillotined response, neck-out, blade-suspended-over-my-head silence . . . waiting . . . Escape hatch? “someday? You know, maybe on vacation or something?”
Head on an elbow, a raised eyebrow lowers, turns $25,000 Pyramid thoughtful, considering the “Things you can say to hurt your lover…” list, a handsome smile on the made-for-television face “Maybe.”
“Yes.” Ding! ding! ding! “Nicely done.” The host smiles charmingly into the camera and claps the shoulder of his contestant congenially as the co-hostess pop-tart pantomimes a Miss America clap in the background.
“You could meet my aunt and uncle” Ex-laxed mouth . . . Pe—pto—bi--smo. “But-- right. If you wanted to- it’d be a nice trip. Free tropical vacation . . . just our flights. Something to think about.”
“Alright, thirty seconds: Name as many possibilities as you can.” The forever young game show host flips the card in his hand and positions it professionally up and out at a 45 degree angle.
“Things that you say to let your lover know it’s over . . .”
“Yeah. Well, we’ll see. I’ve got a pretty heavy work schedule for the next couple of months…“
I turn away from the sparkling solar reflection and stare into dim shadows of memory, the arpeggioing song of a mockingbird modifying key and mood, an incidental introduction to Ravel’s Miroirs. My fingers flutter over the surface of the water, “I have to work late tonight. See you tomorrow…” Pianissimo—hint of the melody “the boys and I are going to the game. Guy’s night. You’d just be bored…” hands cross “I’m going out of town this weekend…” a sensual bass is plucked while the right hand trills “One of the girls at the office is always hanging around. Smells like she wears a whole bottle. . . It’s probably her perfume” chords hover and glissade down the keyboard, mimicking a chorus of birds “You are just… driving me crazy… Stop smothering! Why don’t you get out and see some of your friends. . . “ delicate allemande in the upper register “Hi, this is John. Sorry I missed your call. Leave a message…” leit motif taken up in the bass “She’s just a friend. If you don’t like it, then do something about it…” cascading chords fade into solitude “I need some time, some space…” The codetta crystallizes. . .
I squinch into roiled liquids. The reflection of a child’s face lingers just below the waters visage, blinking blandly up, the brown orbs deeper than oceanic depths. Heartbreak as palpable as the water’s warmth spills over the child’s eye’s edge. The gaze that holds mine tenders narration
loss. . .
loneliness . . .
a subterranean ache. . .
Still there: just under the surface,
the little girl worn with sadness and myopic sorrow.
Pain upon pain covering a coffin of tears.
And more tears. . .