smokes tobacco from a pipe, is a temescal guide.
You can tell the scientists to stop looking for the blackest shade of black.
I’ve found it. It’s her hair—
and the curls that pile from front to back hold worlds.
Ornella wears a white bikini
jade hoops in her ears
talks about growing up on Playa del Carmen
before the drug cartels and bloated, sunburned tourists,
when parrots lived in her backyard
and the sand had no sargazo.
Her oversized sunglasses sit
over a smattering of freckles on her nose.
She offers me body butter
while she sucks on the pit of a mango.
The darker her skin gets the more striking the bikini.
Ornella doesn’t like to talk in the morning.
She is sleepy and bright at the same time,
drinks green juice and black coffee,
reads books about Buddhism,
says things like Motherhood looks like prison.
She buys food for the street dogs and takes me for tiramisu
where the old Italian owner uses the good mascarpone.
Teaches me to ask if the Rosa de Jamaica is made from flowers or syrup.
She has a degree in economics.
In the summer she picks cherries and trims weed,
says real hippies work —
even harder than everyone else
because that’s the cost of opting out.
She is always talking about opportunity cost.
I wonder what the opportunity is with me
this languid week on the empty beach.
Says she thinks she’ll go to Pakistan
after she buys her land in Tepoztlán.
In any case she won’t go back to America.
Americans are atascado she says.
The dictionary translates it as stuck.
She describes it as being empty:
like the lonely rich guy that can’t stop doing cocaine.
Ornella is not on Instagram.
She once bought a van and drove it to Alaska.
Her laughter sounds like every woman on earth
biting into an apple at the same time.
She is a Taurus.
Of course she loves to eat pizza,
and is very discerning about the crust.
Jaime Jacques lives on the ancestral and unceded territory of Mi’kma’ki. She is the author of Moon El Salvador, and her reporting and creative nonfiction can be found in Lonely Planet, Salon, Narratively, Roads and Kingdoms, and NPR. Her poetry has been published in Rogue Agent, Variant Lit, Birdcoat Quarterly, and Day Job Journal among others. Connect with her on the astral plane or on Instagram @calamity__jaime.