You know a good man when you see one, that’s what my great-grandma would say, back in those days when the island was full of men, and women could pick and choose, like you would a cherry from a tree. It’s all a legend now, my great-grandma’s stories, the way she became alive.
The giant whales came from the other side of the island and took all our men and boys away, left the rest of us behind, back when I was a child. We watched the show, mesmerized, my girlfriends and I. Each winter, our mothers would give us round glass snow globes, with beautifully sculpted men, yet fragile, trapped inside.
So I go to the ocean and I pray to the gods to send me a man to love, to shake the earth and live the wonders of all the worlds with, to create many children with, cute little babies with little round faces, boys and girls alike, who will never grow old or leave the island or die.
And there are all these women passing by, always passing by. With their unborn babies and silent dreams, untouched, unknown even to themselves, walking around with their rotting wombs, unable to extend their bodies into other selves. They pass each other by and forget to smile and to breathe at night.
And I? I lie down on the sand and let the water take me away and bring me back to myself. I come to myself in waves, but that’s all there is, always myself. I touch myself and I think, I am still here, my flesh is still fresh, I don’t have sea urchins growing under my skin just yet. I could be faster than a hot air balloon! I could be a seagull, or a dove. I wonder if there are other islands, on the other side.
There was a man once, with deep-violet eyes and a giant violin breath. We touched our stretched hands, from opposite sides of the same glass, at dawn, when dreams meet baked apples and everyday life, and we couldn’t tell the ocean from the sky. He said he had to leave the island in a balloon that night. He promised me the world and kissed me goodbye. I was fifteen years old and my hair extended all the way down to my longing feet. If my hair could have crossed the glass, it would’ve grabbed his shoulders and trapped him inside me, forever on this side.
So when a giant whale came to shore and looked me in the eye, I followed her. I took it as a sign. It got dark, deep-blue, when the whale closed my eyes. The insides of my womb, my breasts, my nostrils, my brain, all filled up with something a whole lot bigger than I. I kept my mouth wide-open and I asked the ocean and the sky: is this true love? Is it fair? To be dead? To be alive?