On dirt-packed roads that thinned and fell apart like breath in winter, we sputtered along in our car, a yellow coupe with a memory for
recording groves of myrtle and secular pine in kilometers. For six days we milled around forts, bays, and bare, gold dunes stormed and conquered too often to accurately count on the island shaped like a foot, no, the print of a foot—God’s, in fact. Or so the locals say. At the rough, southern tip where the limestone runner’s heel would have first struck, we break bread at the wobbly table we’ve claimed as our own for the last time and take in every detail: the sleepy violets on the table, the handmade menus that smell like fish, which is to say fresh off the boat, and the waiter, the lanky one missing teeth whose mouth sounds like a piano tuned for serenades, who is flirting with you while I sit and grin as I imagine Odysseus must have grinned at his wife’s bold suitors because we are in the birthplace of the dropwort after all, that sweet ditch-daisy Carthaginians brewed for criminals and the elderly, who, knowing no better drank it and danced as their faces twisted into a smile Socrates would have known, that tender old clown who saw the humor in death, who would have seen the wisdom of spending the last of our jigsawed days feasting and raising our glasses to the most merciful god of glee until laughter did us part.
53 The Paris-American
Tomás Q. Morín is the winner of the 2012 APR/Honickman First Book Prize for his collection A Larger Country. He is co-editor with Mari L’Esperance of the anthology,Coming Close: 40 Essays on Philip Levine. His poems have appeared in Slate, Threepenny Review, Boulevard, New England Review, and Narrative.