A dream of eerie, oddly-shaped fish dominated my sleep some nights as a child. Afraid and rapt with wonderment, I could not tear myself away, awaken on will as with other frightful ones. I was slowly suffocating, descending deeper into waters that somehow remained just as clear, and although each non-breath seemed to be my last, it went on and on, intensifying in its awful fascination and constriction on my lungs, until some external factor woke me.
I worked the waters of Miami’s gritty river for ten years, sometimes in the cramped hold of a millet-filled ship, where the grain for the hungry Haitian poor was piled everywhere. It got into my lungs, it provided slip-relief, like sawdust, from the oily floor. I also worked the gleaming docks of the shimmering Biscayne Bay where Americans came to bathe in the false hope of the Caribbean, hoping for some days of freedom.
Working in the spacious cruise ship laboratories with their white surgeon’s suits and fresh paint, I couldn’t help but wonder about the disparities — the Chief Engineer, a man of distinction, the scow captain a man of disrepute.
Then the pure joy of stopping by a Mami-Papi comedor, soaking in fresh-fried maduros where this conflict of Miami faded away into nothingness.
Now I think of neither but see an azure sky casting diamonds on red coral specks in the sands, and dream of the white foam of a wave receding from your breast.