Creative Nonfiction: Shipwrecked by Jamy Bond

We are walking along the coast of Ilha de Mozambique, passing carcasses of old pirate ships parked in the sand. The moon hangs on its black cord above. This is the island of ghost ships, you say, decay can be beautiful. We are feeding peaches to bush babies in a Swazi game park: Take my hand, you say, we’ll drink wine by the beehive huts. The moon disappears and it starts to rain. I cover you with my tarp but you push it away, hold out your arms, turn up your face, let the sky kiss my flesh, you say. I reach for the wet waves in your hair and whisper: You’ll be dead in a month. You put a finger to my lips, Shhh, we aren’t supposed to know yet. I am weeping to a white-coated doctor: Vicodin, Percocet, Morphine. Give me anything. But where is the pain, he asks, can you point to it? Your boyfriend is sobbing through the crackle of a land line: I tried to save her; there was blood and glass everywhere. In my dream, you sail through the windshield in a swan dive, glass glittering like diamonds around your face. Your broken wrists are wishbones of white in the night. We sit beneath a blanket of blue Jacarunda, eating pastries filled with prawns and cream. I remember how you cared for me when we were kids, you say, after Dad left and Mom locked herself away; you held me after the nightmares. On the skin above my breast, raw blisters emerge, broiling with pus, their crusty strings like arrows aimed at my heart. The pain is right here, I point for the doctor. Please, make it go away. My daughter is gathering sandstones into the folds of her t-shirt. I see you in the delicate curve of her jawbone as we creep through a Kruger forest to the glistening pale of a watering hole where lions stir in the morning mist. Be very quiet, you say with your eyes, they can hear everything. I would give anything to hold your hand, to lace my fingers with yours once again, but it is my daughter’s hand reaching back as we walk through a field of bluebells, pine branches bending in the breeze, eagles circling overhead. It starts to rain. I pull her jacket closed, but she pushes my hand away. I like the rain drops on my skin, she says. She wants to be a surgeon when she grows up. Did you know they can transplant an entire face? She asks. Peel it from me and stitch it to you. She comes to me at night, crying from a dream, we were shipwrecked and drowning at sea. I reach for the snowy ringlets in her hair. Tell me about nice things, she says, slipping under the blanket, her heartbeat fast and shallow next to mine. Once, two sisters wandered the ruins of limestone villas on the Island of Mozambique. I say. Were they pirates? She asks. Pioneers, I say. She looks up at me and grins, but it’s you I see smiling from the folds of her face, you I feel beating in the blood rhythm of my heart.

Jamy Bond’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Barren Magazine, The Forge Literary, Wigleaf, XRAY, The Sun, and The Rumpus, among others.

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