Peninsula Nicoya, July 1998 – Sarah Endo

Two sisters
Lured by the promise of wilderness, empty
beaches, Reserva Natural Absoluta
Cabo Blanco
One sister, hoping to see an agouti
One sister, open to anything

One bus
One city so dirty that when the squeamish sister
drops her Spanish dictionary in a puddle by the road
she simply abandons it to the murky water
One cab ride shared by the sisters with an older rounder passenger
who the driver drops off first, then jokes about: la gordita

One ferry
One magnificent frigatebird
puffy red S-curve neck leading the way into the wind
One hippie surfer town
One sister freaked out by the town’s name Mal Pais—
bad country
But wanting to see the agouti, the wildlife of Reserva Natural

One hotel
One short walk through tall grass to a small beach
Two sisters
Two sisters running into the water not seeing
the thousand
dagger rocks just offshore
Curving points aiming back at them
impale one sister’s knee
unleashing tiny beads of blood

One sister wading, swimming out to explore a little island
One sister frozen on the shore, calling her back
fearing her sister will drown or be swept out to sea

One shower, a half-dozen
orange and purple Halloween crabs
dancing on its floor

One night’s sleep
One mile walk to the trailhead, the Reserva Natural
One sister, worried about running out of water out of energy
before the hike even begins
One sister, determined
to keep going

Two brilliant blue birds side by side on a branch, taking turns
jumping and squeaking like Muppets
One drab olive female watching from a nearby tree
Two sisters transfixed

One pristine beach at the bottom of the trail, water clear as air
Beckoning the sisters to swim, cool off before the long ascent
One sister eying the beautiful water nagged by one thought: sharks
Worrying that the scab on her knee from the dagger rocks
will attract sharks
One sister trying to swim while holding the scabby knee out of the water
One sister admonishing, You’re going to drown
because you’re worried about sharks
Two sisters exhaling at the top of the trailhead, laughing
when a small mammal—an agouti—
skitters by in the understory

Sarah Endo
Sarah Endo lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her poems have appeared in Bird’s Thumb, Camroc Press Review, Literary Mama, and vox poetica, and have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.