THE FLAT AND THE MELLOW

I can’t sleep. This light keeps turning on. It’s right above my head. Literally and figuratively. And last night I dreamt that someone put an armadillo in my hair. It wove it’s hard body into my strands and secrets started rising and I couldn’t get it out without getting bit. I woke up in a sweat of afterthoughts; I shouldn’t have let that stranger get close enough to put that in my hair, I should have put a cone around my crown to confine it then flipped upside down and shook all around, I should have called an armadillo whisperer- do those even exists?

I was all the way across the lagoon when I dreamt that. Anchored in front of the primary forest. Rafted-up next to Captain Beadle’s catamaran, C’est La Vie. Two boats side-by-side, sharing one anchor. Most of the people from the pearl farm, with me. The Beadle clan, on the cat. All of us, together, on the water.

We went there for calmer conditions. There is less fetch on the lagoons where the wind is blowing from. The wind is east so east we went, to the flat and mellow. Too many people were vomiting from the saltwater sea-saw near the farm.

As soon as we get over there a squall clocks the wind from east to south. Everyone fears the permanence of this shift. I say, “As soon as this passes the wind will be east again.“

“I hope your right,” someone says. The squall passes and the wind turns back. I never trust the wind speed or direction during a squall. It’s fickle and fleeting.

At anchorage, we put the Beadle twins in my fruit hammocks and they have a ball. We eat fresh speared fish and breadfruit and cabbage and rice- all of our provisions are low. We have a giant slumber party and it feels like grade school. I give Tevai and Morgan my V-berth. They are a young couple that met on Tender. Another couple here met via a Facebook friend suggestion and another at a tantric workshop. This is dating in 2021.

When Morgan wakes up she asks, “Has anybody died on this boat?” I get chicken skin, “Yeah, the previous owner, why?” She says, “When I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I felt a presence next to me. It was watching me pee.” I say, “Well, I guess my ghost likes golden showers.”

Then this one light starts turning on whenever Morgan gets near it and now it’s doing it to me. I have to pee, but I don’t want the golden shower ghost to watch me and it’s midnight and I’m all alone on Juniper, too far from the farm to swim in. I’m thinking about the bitter end and how sweet the sunrise is. Sometimes, when it rises, it makes me cry.

These atolls are ancient cannibal grounds and the night often crawls. I tell myself that it’s not night. That there is no night. That the stars are all shattered suns. I throw myself back in time. Back to earlier today. I’m walking through the primary forest. The forest is all bird feathers and sage green and native trees and wet earth and big crabs and boobies singing while soaring above. The birds sound like monkeys. I want a pet monkey. I want to dress it in stripes and train it to climb my mast and catch fish and ghosts for me.

I keep wandering the forest, following the sounds of crashing waves through the trees. Every motu on the atoll, used to look and sound like this forest, until things were chopped down in favor of coconuts. Now, most motus are a desert of dead coral and palms. An ecosystem flattened by human consumption.

I shove white flowers in my mouth and suck on their nectar. The waves get louder and louder until they are in my ears splashing around. I am on the ocean side, where the coral has been sea-smoothed into a thick grain of sand.

The waves gush and they turn the shore into an orchestra of maracas. I lay down like a seal and let them tumble me around. Feet and arms pinwheeling. I play with sea urchins. I turn coral bombies into bull rides. I sit on them, hold as tight as I can, until I am washed loose.

Afterwards, I walk back to the lagoon and wrap my lips around a green coconut. I drink it and dangle on a palm tree that grows sideways over the lagoon. I chew on the idea of finding someone who lives in French Polynesia and making arrangements to be their concubine, so I can dangle forever in this utopia.

Concubine is a real status one can receive to stay here without running around short-lived visas. No marriage necessary, all you need is a local boy to be your boyfriend, if only on paper.

I’ll put an add on this coconut tree, “Female baba cool, who lives on a sailboat, seeking local boy- you be my valentine and I’ll be your concubine. P.S.- I like lime in my coconuts.” (Baba cool is French for hippie. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself that, I just like saying it over and over again.) Baba cool, baba cool, baba cool.

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