Attractions by John Allman



As if there weren’t some little piece of unradiated something still floating around just behind the esophagus that keeps swallowing tasteless vegetables from an aluminum tray. His friend the other side of a plastic curtain, speaking through the flap, his nicotine breath carrying fire. The blinking red eye in the hallway signaling someone else going down. Something in the air—if you can call it air—like the Caribbean, a bluish-green he looks through. It’s here, seems to be here. The face mask he spat on to prevent fogging now clear as he looks at intricacies like coral that injure a swimmer, looking into himself at the slow gulping jaws of someone so long under he might just as well scrape deeper into a sandy bottom and hide there. Lungs hissing beneath tons of sunlight. He’s only checking it out. He’s going to pop up gasping, his daughters there in the shade under the sea-grapes, sting of water in his eyes. Sudden noise of an outboard motor and lens of blazing sun all the evidence he needs that he’s in the resort bay, a cold current beneath him, the rattling of tubes and wires a fisherman’s net slapping against the boat. He can wade out of this and buy t-shirts in the equipment store, the ones with an embossed map showing just where he is, sheltered from the path of cruise ships, the mountains behind him terraced into small farms. A man up there gathering early tomatoes. A wife in hospital whites patting his face dry.