Taking a diversion from his Doric infused scenic poetry, Blair Center explores perspective and meaning in this tropical short piece set in the sun-baked resorts of Tenerife.
Ants filter, single file, across the boulevard paved in tiny tiles. Like walking grains in the cool shade, they hoist chunks of fruit while the light bleaches the pathway to match the stretching sands beyond the stone wall and the palm trees. Laying by a pool outside a restaurant with football on the TV, a man with polo shirt and sunglasses calls from beneath a brimmed hat to walking tourists. Come back each night this week. You get poolside for free, he shouts, his legs resting in the undisturbed, cool water which tempts in the heat. Music plays softly from the seaside shops selling sandals and pails as the tourists, mostly middle-class Brits, lay in lines on loungers; rows and rows of blue parasols and skin shining sun-burned. The limpid Atlantic shimmies away into the south, glinting like a crystal floor.
The fruit seller waddles, wobbling with the weight of the box on his waist as he calls out in a sing-song voice ‒ Pineapple, coconut, melon. His calls draw out some lazing, raised arms; some children abandon the hole they are digging and skip barefoot through the hot sand towards him, Euros jingling softly inside their tiny fists. The vendor smiles, puts the coins in his bag. Wielding the knife, showing off for the eager children, he slices a zig-zag smile into the honeydew before pulling the soft, syrupy halves apart to the sound of splitting seeds and ripping rind. He slices, splits and smacks together coconuts to weaken the shell, letting the water fall into the sand. The children eat greedily — the fresh fruit’s flesh is the most succulent they’ve tasted, being away from the cold northern shores. They run into the sea on full stomachs, splashing water noisily.
Behind them, beyond Los Cristianos, the cars pass slowly through the landscape with the looming, arid hills and shrubs. From out in the sea, everyone looks like tiny ants, hoisting their fruits along the coastline.