Florida/1996. Christmas Day.
A collective of pink condominiums set in squares around a section of Intracoastal Waterway.
I see myself, hands thrust into the pockets of my shorts walking on a pier, the thick wood beneath my feet warm and smooth.
I am walking in order to unravel a tightly knotted thread. Trying to find my way to the beginning.
For now, I have returned to the U.S. Life has become complicated. Eighteen months have passed through me in an instant. My long leap of faith (this fragile human construct) has left only questions. Hope without proof.
There is no wind. The low sun casts lazy shadows as clouds and buildings are reflected across the surface of the murky water. A seagull lands on a post in the distance, flaps its wings, flies off.
There are ripples; gentle wrinkles and a bulky mass the color of stone drifts by, skimming beneath the pier. One more. Two. Until they are six.
People have gathered. I hear the murmur of voices behind me. I hear someone say, ‘the manatees are back’. But I do not turn around.
Instead, I lie on my stomach, arm stretching my hand to the water. Without thought.
Finally, as if summoned, I climb the steps down from the pier into the cold water and crouch down.
There are shells beneath my feet. One of the manatees moves very close. So close that for a moment her eye and mine are inches away. Her head brushes against my face. A shiver runs through me.
She circles. I look into those eyes, the ancient darkness of them and wonder, what have you seen?
Where have you been that I will never go and what did you find there?
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