Midnight Voices

I lay in the darkness and listened to the ocean and the wind through the open screens. The radio in the corner carried voices from the dark waters outside into the living room all night, voices calling to other boats, Come in Sea Slipper, come in Juniper, southwest wind, fishing tomorrow, drank too much, still drinking. I woke up once and turned over, saw dim stars through the skylight. The voices on the radio weren’t speaking English anymore. I tried to catch the words, but they kept rushing and blowing through the speakers like the wind and waves outside. Maybe it was Haitian, I thought.

That day we had watched a Haitian ship sail across the horizon, leaving Nassau, risking the trip home. I had seen those boats up close, whole trees for masts, the bark peeled off, sails stitched together, mattresses piled and strapped on the roof of the cabin. Along the deck: washing machines, crates of electronics, televisions, crates of food, these colorful ships rocking back and forth in Nassau harbor, gathering goods to take back home. They’re fast, those boats, I tell ya, boyo, but they do crash; big storm comes through, they won’t make it.

The boat would be far out of range now, and the voices I heard sounded more like friends whispering from across the room, not someone blasting quietly through the dark, toward someone like me, listening in the darkness.

About the author

Matthew Zanoni Muller was born in Bochum, Germany, but grew up mostly in the US. His travels have taken him to Europe, South America,…

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Issue 11 · January 2011

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