Reefs a million years old, stingrays and sharks like ironwrought clockworks wound up and set loose before the oceans had cooled. Still ticking. Poisoning. Eating. Shitting. Dreaming. Mouthfuls of sand and ground coral. Drug boats sneaking from the shadow of one island to another like B-movie goons. Sparks from under rusting engine at midnight, a weedy yard full of sweatstained Indians drinking Medalla Lights as they build a Frankenstein Chevy. Hug your beliefs a little closer here, or slough them off and face it. Ask the Spanish ghosts clinging to the ground bones of their empire, littered along the shores with the crab shells and bottle caps and pared fingernails of dead volcanos.
Off in the distance, a thin electronic whine, a mosquito looking for a soft spot in the cartilege of your ear. Elections. Campaign contributions. Wall Street. Recession. Tea parties. Thin as a strand of fishing twine, as fake. Snap it with a twitch of muscle. No one down here will care in twenty years, any more than they care now. They've heard that whine for centuries. There's a Yankees game on. And the weather report. That's something. Outside, the belly of a thunderhead growls. The tarpon draw fat black rubber curves in the splishing water, searching for scraps in the dock lights. A brown paper bag flutters over lapping tongue-tips, a bat plucking ripe bugs from the night. Across the water the mountain of Yunke inhales clouds from the sea and exhales rain; his first breath came before we were born. I remember a taxi driver in San Juan washing his windshield off. Sand, he said. There's a haze before the moon. Saharan sand. Rides the tradewinds across the Atlantic. The bat takes another bug.