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Vacation Journal
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Isla Mujeres in August

By: giniconroy (View Profile)
Date: 4/30/2005

On the ferry
I look for the sea color
that will tell me
we are close to the Island.

I see it first so far away
it could be a mirage.
Then it's upon us
and all around us
and the ferry glides.

The water's aquamarine:
bluest of blue-greens –
the color I've never seen
in any other sea
in any other place
that I have ever been.

When I look up
the sky is dull, grey-lavender:
Sunlight has forgotten it
to pierce the depths
and light up the sand
beneath this pool
this liquid jewel
shimmering and clear:
this is the color of Isla.

My breath catches
my throat is tight
and the tears come.
Robert, I say, whispering:
Look—look there.

On the beach:
I don't see how you can call
that strip of sea out there grey
I say to him
when we lie on the beach
at the northern tip of the Island.

It's not grey at all
but sapphire so dark purple-blue
it's like the wine-dark sea of Homer.

Here at the shoreline
the water – almost transparent –
is like faintly tinted green glass.

In the shallows,
constant and relentless gentle waves
have made a deep step
and the water, clouded with shifting sand,
is palest jade.

A few feet out
deeper and clear once more –
the sea is turquoise, more green than blue.

And there is a band
of grape so purple
it's almost black.

Far, far out,
near the horizon:
you can see a glittering ribbon
of aquamarine.

Late in the afternoon:
When the white sun has reached
its five o'clock place in the sky
the coconut man comes
and the sea turns to opals.

But when we swim out
and look back to the beach,
the sea is dark again –
deep jade green.

The wind that comes
when the sun is setting
and the tide is going out,
ripples the surface of the water
and it becomes opaque.

This is the time
when the pleasure boats leave
and the blue wooden boat
that waits all day
in the shallows near the shore
for snorkelers who rarely come
is pulled in

And almost all the bright umbrellas
and long white beach chairs
are put away until tomorrow.
At last it's only us
under our striped umbrella
on the long, empty beach.

The sun cools
as it sinks toward the opal sea
and the man comes down the beach
crying: 'cocos, cocos'!

Down the beach:
they are lighting the Tikis
on the apron of pale sand
sprawled in front
of the Sunset Grill.

And still we sit
silent
as the red sun slides
silent
into the sea.

When it's gone a line of red-gold lingers:
a brush-stroke across the opal sea
and light spills up the sky
where white clouds piled high
blush every shade of gold and pink
and flame against delicate aching blue.

The light is fading now:
it's time for us to gather up
the things we brought today
and walk along hard-packed wet sand
past Mexican families in silhouette
playing at the shoreline.

We pass through the restaurant
the Tiki's burn bright in the sand
and the pony-tailed boy
who plays guitar and sings here
pauses in his song as we pass
he smiles at us and murmurs in Spanish
something about amor.

The sea is a gleaming
dimpled dark pearl
in the deepening dusk
as we walk away
to the dusty street
that leads to our hotel.

We climb one flight of stairs
and turn down the long corridor
that is open on one side
above a courtyard garden.

An ancient banyan tree –
massive and thick
with aerial roots –
leans against the old hotel.

Tall coconut palms
bow deferentially
and a row of bright hibiscus
stands
tall as apple trees.

Our cool, dim room waits for us:
our bed made up
the floor damp and clean
gleaming from its daily mopping.
The camberista left another fresh hibiscus flower:
it glows red in the vase on the table
by the window.


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