Copyright 2005 by Jonathan Marcantoni
This is only the text, but the original idea was for photography to be included.
The coast, thirty thousand feet below an airplane window, the sight of God canvassing Eden.
The shadow of reefs smothering sky blue waters--a rush of foam lifting, careening, dipping,
Sweeping ancient sands fighting the current to hold onto smooth
rock. These sands alter, crumble, rebuild. The rocks awash with
pounding, relentless sweeping swaying, at once smooth then rigid then smooth, pristine shimmering surfaces hiding the strain of holding
up against pushing, pulling incessant tides.
Beyond, trees swinging to the breeze whose rhythms build to a
soft, compact, tense song. A relentless melody encompassing
death, inhibited life, longing joy, miserable apathy. The song of the coqui, who cannot sing outside its home. A deep song buried in the
bowels of a land brimming, boiling, cracking, exploding, reaching feeling
born of waves that shaped the land. The land with an epic coast,
one that twists and rivets and dips and depresses into inlets a mile
wide--engulfs pounding, driving, crushing, sweeping music whose greatest punch to the soul is the intimate soliloquy, the lone coqui
will not be silenced!
Thirty thousand feet above I inhale this sight, my breath sucking
the dusty past into a ball giving way to an incessant, tiny voice
now freed as I exhale, suddenly overcome with crying joy the congas, trumpets, guiros, gourds, and cuatro guitar bursting from within
the song born in me, of me, years ago transcribed in the heart of God to fill my own.
It is not Puerto Rico I see, but life as landscape.
Old San Juan August 10, 2004
Through the lens I see--
in the distance a band, a joyous unified play on words with melody
no more than twenty feet to my right, and at my left a refresco stand
beside a vendor selling helado de mango for the little girls giggling at their slimy sweet first ice cream, their mothers urging them along—
This man, curled as he was in his mother’s begotten womb, sleeping while the world tumbles and crashes by.
Down the avenue a shirtless man, older than the last, his face a
grimace of aged sorrow. Lakes of beads trickle down his brow, his
chest, bursting from the sun that stabs at his reddened eyes as the whole world passes without even a casual glimpse, sigh, or moment of
recognition that HE may be their future.
The band, the swinging, jumping band banging out coco melodies
under guava harmonies. So enveloped in their playing, so at one with
the joyous heart they have expanded upon this street pulling every man, woman and child to feel its love--BAILA BAILA--the women
spin, then men catch them as they fall, dip, swing, curve, the women grabbing, shaking, twirling the men's hips twist and turn their feet
slapping, tapping, pounding rhythm into the cobblestone.
A lone domino slides up the checkered board. The players silent,
stale rhythms hanging heavy above their heads as they stroke their
chins and make casual remarks. There is the quick joke, the lengthy complaint, the random observation of admiration for a pretty girl
across the street, a series of moves play out--stalemate. More rubbing of chins, casual remarks, and silent observance.
My own childhood played out several weekends on these streets. A
curious child, sneaking in and out every alley, peeking into each
store window, my parent's frustrated attempts at getting me to COME. My brothers laughing and picking at me, me tripping them.
Amongst these ancient streets I am filled with the distinct desire to call them--no, be with them. Because in every store and restaurant
and church statue or stained glass I see a piece of my family. An object or scent that I want to share, to see their faces light up and hear
their own memories played out in sparkling eyes. I want to eat a meal with them, to breathe this air with them. Yet all I can do is call
them. Then I am at the meeting point, where the brick road turns to pavement and every building is new, and the longing grows, and
I am a 21 year old Spanish student at Oglethorpe University. I
have been writing since I was eight years old and have completed
three full length plays, a novella, four short plays, and thirty
monologues. I am currently working on a book of short stories. My
influences include Hubert Selby Jr., Jose Saramago, Gabriel Marquez,
Richard Price, Herman Hesse, and Fernando Pessoa. I am a first
generation Puerto Rican-American and I hope to live on the island one
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