Attractions by John Allman



The Santa Maria taking froth along her wormy bow, her swaying fore and aft castles, a pennant streaming like Isabella's sleeves, the tufts of hair above his ears, his swollen eyelids curved and shadowy as the small breasts of Indian women. I mean Cuba not Cipangu or Cathay. This western half of the world is like the half of a very round pear, having a raised projection for a stalk, or like a … nipple on a round ball. Because it comes down to the beauty of white ruff collars the six Spaniards (delete the Genoan and make it five) wear like bleached starfish, their lacy points true admonitions to bone arrowheads. I mean bows, satin bows in Renaissance hats, turned-up brims, the peeled look of men's legs between garters and boots, their utter blankness, the little white Inri pinned to the vertical beam of a processional crucifix carried by the monk at the rear, sailors tinkling falcons' bells.

Open sewage, cracked syntax, cholera, the Orinoco thrashing like Charybdis, lice implicit in shades of purple beneath a parrot's wing. There are great indications of this being the terrestrial paradise. I mean myself, waking in Katonah to the odor of blood, the dogwood bright with dirty linen bloom. Vines hung from mangrove trees like elongated tears, bald Arawaks pearl-fishing off Margarita, and the shackles on his scuffed ankles, his red-rimmed eyes, Bobadilla bringing him home in chains. I mean thin brown arms of girls bought like farms for a hundred castellanos. The cacique Guacanagari with his men in ceremonial approach, theirs arms lifted like sleepwalkers. La Navidad's fort rising in the moonlight as quickly as a tin shed from Sears.