“Topology”
by Amanda Shapiro

In March the wind starts blowing at sunrise and doesn’t stop until well past dark. I say “sunrise” and “dark” and “in March” because that’s when I was there.

Think of a baked road, a gas station, a taco stand. A few homes where the fishermen live and dogs. The dogs are everywhere. A leathery expat owns the straw house. In my mind it’s made of straw. That was the color, sunsmooth and sanded down. In March the sun is strong until it’s gone.

There is a palapa on the sand and a bonfire pit. A wide balcony faces the water, and the wind. A new man arrives. He wears long dark clothes in the heat. He doesn’t sit at the bonfire at night with the expats and the dogs who collect there.

A Pacifico truck comes once a week. A case of liter bottles costs twelve pesos. There are boats for fishing, no one goes but me. The man is bright in mathematics. Shapes and how they transform, how they move through space. When I ask he says, What I did, I don’t do no more. Now he talks to dogs and birds, feeds them.

I take the boat before sunrise. Fishing is best before the wind. I fill three coolers. On the palapa, I clean and fillet them all. The long-sleeved man watches. He takes my picture with the biggest—round, orange, and inedible.

We walk until the beach turns to rocks and the lighthouse is there, peeling white and graffiti, stairs coiled inside like a Nautilus shell. At the top, we’re barefooted in bottle glass. We don’t ask questions, only talk about what we can touch. He pulls a small baggie from his pocket. On the walk back, we take what’s inside. Then the sand moves too. The house, the fire.

We sit close in the dunes, and the wind blows smoke and laughing our way. A dog I’ve named Mary Ann comes to my lap and I hold her and smell her deep salted skin, her grease. I breathe animal in and let myself out.

There is no conversation to report. I would have had sex if he tried. Instead we slept, him behind me behind Mary Ann in the sand.

Then there’s no one but me, but it’s light and the wind. I hear voices on the beach. A boat is missing. A dead bird is tied by the claw to a rock at the waterline.  I’m in the dunes. I’m so still and covered I’ve become the dunes.  As sand, I no longer need to breathe.

I know nothing about April, but in March the fish are biting and each day hangs long and bright. There’s no church in this town, no doctors either.  The wind carries most voices before it drowns them out.

 

 

Amanda Shapiro lives in Durham, North Carolina. She has an MFA from Columbia University, and her work has been published in Porchlight and in Ben Marcus’ Smallwork