It was the year of islands--palms waving a welcome of boats on the wide Malacca Strait, smacking the water’s blue face, hello. Island of rock and wind and three-digit weather.
Island of honeymooners from Saudi Arabia bent at shell collecting. The groom with his shirt unbuttoned to the waist, the bride in full Burqa, though the rhinestones on her sandals spark, hello.
Island of monkeys snatching Pringles from a can, selfishly guarding and watching, munching. Monkeys like French tourists screaming at monkeys stealing purses—they cannot chase them into the rainforest where monitor lizards zigzag trails, leaves fly, snakes saunter, scorpions wiggle their black husks.
Island of rambutan-- you spiky red whore. Island of foreign tongues that make me shy. Island of the woman with the coconut milk hat, kohl black eyes and a gold bindi.
Island of the woman in the flowering headscarf at the parking lot of the floating mosque. Island of stray dogs, tumors hanging like teats.
Island of wet markets, and the toothless woman piling chicken feet up into ziggurats. Island of tempeh makers, coconut milkers, egg sellers, and me--strangest of all: an island in the year of islands.
--Maria Garcia Teutsch
Maria Garcia Teutsch is a poet and editor. She has published over 20 journals of poetry as editor-in-chief of the Homestead Review, published by Hartnell College in Salinas, and Ping-Pong journal of art and literature, published by the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California. She teaches poetry and creative writing online as part of Hartnell College faculty. www.marialoveswords.com