It’s been three days now. We continue to find

splinters of rice clinging to our scalps; piercing

no skin but adamant, predatory at the root.

They will not be removed. Thinking back to the Mass

we recall the smallest things”yellow neckties

splashed with ciliated paisley, old silk dresses with

piscine flares, and one thin strand of cultured pearls.

Transplanted to the haunting, siren surge of Garrafon

Beach, our feet sink fast in earth and we

allow ourselves a moment’s burial

in this benevolent grave of wet sand.

Our guide Frederico insists we call him Freddy.

(Must acquaintance require always the abridgment

of the formal?)

Aiming for the reef we forget

our fins. Soles get cut on

coral, bleeding bold red into

the surf. Freddy tells us

it’s worth it beyond. He is right.

The Daliesque choreography of life here! A

mixed pavane of wrasse, grunt, and goby maneuvers

beside us, plucking late lunch from pockets of stone.

Layers of plankton cover layers of bone that cover layers

of ancient rock. Algae drifts above, hogging the sun,

lacking decent radix, its slippery patches an unsophisticated

green. But anything green is, at least, alive.

A piqued queen angelfish””Isabelita””watches from the darkness.

Brilliant among the blue-dappled sea whips, her wary gaze nails

us. The eyes are the same as my mother’s. Remember?

Our last dance before leaving. Those eyes”

pleased that we came to realize this paradise,

but more than half betrayed

by the slow disruption of home.