Linda Malnack

Beachcomber Island (Fiji, 1985)

In this dream I live again for the last
time before going down under:
I step off the Tui Tai into a glass-
bottomed boat, move over water
as blue, as teal-bright as the linings

of paua shells. The beach is coarse
with bleached and broken coral, sun
a soothing flame on scalp and shoulder
blades. I sit and listen to waves hover
and crash, watch lines of white

on blue on white. I rent the same
kayak, paddle around the island, press
through whirlpools at the mouth
of a stream lunging into the sea.
The kayak wants to turn toward open

water, toward other islands rising
like vivid green sea turtles on the edge
of the sky; I dig deep with the paddle
and arrive in time to celebrate
my return with a lovo. I feast first

on color, then rice, steamed walu,
stuffed pumpkin. I leave untouched
the hot gold crumbs of curried beef.
White sweet potatoes and pineapple
rings fill me with sleep, yet I converse

drowsily with the brown-skinned man
from Minnesota who came to the island
years ago and can't go back, can't face
all that. Even as he speaks, I know
I will be the one to leave, to step off

the Tui Tai in Lautoka, board a plane
in Nadi, cross the South Pacific. I will
waken finally in Tasmania, oceans
in my ears and the quiet voice of the man
who remains, living out my dream.

Copyright 1996, Linda Malnack

Linda Malnack has worked as a typist, proofreader, and technical writer/editor. Her
poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Arnazella, Bricolage, Paper Boat, Seattle
, and The Windless Orchard. She lives in Normandy Park, WA, with her
husband and three children.