Thursday, February 24, 2022

Day 6

There was a dragonfly in the pool, up against the wall. We weren’t sure it was alive. I scooped it out a bit carelessly and now it lay in the spilled water at poolside, wings tangled and bent. But it moved. Three of its four wings were stuck together on one side. I figured fixing this was essential to the thing’s flight and so to its survival. I was able to pry them apart painstakingly, like layers of wet tissue paper. They were separate now but still heavy with water. The bug moved and even flinched its wings but seemed stunned, uncertain.

We automatically ascribe human qualities to animals of course, especially qualities of thought. It seemed certain to me that this creature was narratizing its ordeal to itself as we might: Fuck. How the fuck am I wet? How am I going to fly now? Am I dying? Is this it?

The thing suddenly hopped an inch or two and took flight. Right back into the pool. I took it out again and placed back it on the tile. Its wings were fucked up again but even worse. They were rolled up and bent, rolled up pin-shaped, bent like rabbit ears. I went and tore off a corner of my bookmark and used it to try to work them back into shape. They were impossibly delicate—I couldn’t believe they didn’t tear. From time to time its legs moved. Not dead yet. It kind of worked but the wings were still crumpled and misshapen.

Now I wondered if that was my fault. I’d swooped in pretending to be a savior, my daughter watching. Yes, I’d be the miracle man who’d restore flight to a doomed and stricken insect—its insignificance didn’t matter; in fact it made the endeavor all the more poignant.

There was something else my new friend might be saying: Fuck this asshole! What the fuck does he think he’s doing? Does he think he’s fucking helping me? Keep your fingers off me, fuckface. I’m trying to take care of myself here. To dry off a goddamn minute and fly. Away from you.

Yes, I was certain my interference had done more harm than good. Other than removing it from the pool, I should have left it alone. This is an evolved bug. Its wings can right themselves. It knows how to get back on its feet and in the air. It’s such human vanity to imagine we’re helping. To think our petty meddling actions are essential all the goddamn time. 

I swam away for a minute, disconsolate. When I looked again the thing was on its back, legs wriggling. I turned it over. Still seemed fucked up. But alive. I gave up now. It was never going to fly with those fucked wings a thoughtless human being had manipulated. Again I swam away, thinking fuck it.

But then I did come round to have a final look. It was gone.

Day 5

Back on the beach again, It’s Five O’clock Somewhere and Cheeseburgers in Paradise. It’s interesting that I haven’t yet heard The Song played a single time. And the volume seems to have gone down. Might there have been some sort of emergency arbitration between Margaritaville and the nearby businesses that resulted in a series of edicts? 

Out beyond the buoys Captain Moses’ One Love bobs softly with the Giant Bubba in tow, awaiting a clutch of drunken, sunburned tourists to rake across the waves.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Day 4

I dove down to touch the canon and tried to appreciate something of its antiquity. It really just felt hard under a veneer of moss. Like an old stone wall in the Connecticut woods. The anchor veiled in seaweed looked like a crucifix someone had escaped and discarded. And yet the fish and the coral and everything else is alive.

On the way out some others on the boat, maybe Eastern European, Russian, asked if it was okay to smoke. Nods all around. A mother and son pulling from the same pack. He lit up right after he got out of the water, too. Cigarettes as a means to delineate events.

It had rained pretty hard in the afternoon.The flagstone terrace of Rick’s ran with rivulets of dirty water that amassed in little pools. We watched the cliff jumpers, saw the sun set through the remains of the storm. The DJ played loud, punctuating the music with birthday shout-outs. Goddamn if it isn’t always someone’s birthday. A young couple, well-dressed, sat facing each other romantically at the corner of the bar. They were daintily eating dishes of penne pasta, one marinara, one cream. She lifted her phone and gazed into it as though it were a mirror.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Day 3

I should avoid all news while here, let it be an intriguing, unpleasant surprise upon our return, the aftermath of a brutal invasion depicted on the array of CNN screens at JFK immigration. But instead I’ve been compulsively checking the Times and the Post.

We went to the mini mart this morning and there were stacks of Red Stripe cases, so now there will be two eras of this vacation: the bottle and the can.

An older guy on the beach came up to me pulling a baggie out of his pocket. What do you need mon, that rap, and I said yeah but I don’t want to spend much, what can I get for ten. He wanted to sell me two for thirty, two for twenty-five. I said twenty, he said fine. A light rain began to fall and he led me to a covered space nearby. He ground a bud into a paper and made small talk, where you from, who you with. At the mention of the word wife he said it’ll make you real hard mon and I said you don’t need to tell me that and he laughed but what I really meant was, you don’t need to tell me that. You don’t have to sell this shit. It’s fucking marijuana. It sells itself.

I rejoined my family buying trinkets from a woman displaying her wares from a scarf in the sand.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Day 2

In one of my last dreams of the night I had a strong feeling it was 1:07 in the afternoon and I felt the requisite guilt of oversleeping, wasting half the day. When I awoke and asked Sara the time it was seven something. I lay in bed awhile trying to remember

A jogger ran past on the beach, winding up and delivering in a cricket bowler’s motion every ten paces or so.

Supply chain disruptions have made odd things scarce. At the supermarket there was no beer in cans. No plain Red Stripe, only apple, melon. Someone told us we’re lucky, they couldn’t find chlorine for the pool until a couple days ago. I lie back under the sun drinking Guinness Foreign Extra, twice the usual ABV. I guess the Irish can’t handle it.

I got up out of the hammock to watch the sunset and caught the three seconds when it goes from a sliver to nothing. 

I finished my short book about the end of the world. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Day 1

I marveled at the blue sky, mouth agape like an idiot. Two birds thrashed in a nearby palm. Were they special birds, I wondered? Special Jamaica birds you don’t see back home. Are they somehow aware of their own identity as such, their splendor? I watched them dart around the fronds. Just a couple of birds.

I decided to roll off the floatie face down as though someone were trying to dispose of my corpse. To cast me adrift hoping I’d never wash ashore. I fell gently below the surface.

At poolside I took pains not to drip on my book. I lay on the chaise and read and drifted off to sleep and read again. At one point I remained conscious just long enough to read two words: the game.

I ate a small bag of hot and spicy banana chips and turned the edges of the pages crimson.

Music blared from the bar over the fence. Footloose, Night Nurse. You could hear the DJ’s patter but nothing else, no giddy, drunken crowd. 

I had to fashion a bookmark from a corner of paper towel.