All the times I cried in Cuba.

July 22, 2013

1: Time passes as slow as molasses in the heat. The bricks, this pen, the back of my neck—everything is sweating bajo el sol de Cuba. A man, ancient and shirtless, appears on the balcony adjacent to my roof. He tosses scraps of bones and fat from a bowl. Cats I hadn’t noticed emerge from shadows, yawning and stretching.  The man says something, or nothing, and takes great pleasure in watching them eat. I taste salt, feel faint, move inside. I am worried that in life I do not take the balcony view or even the street view as Raul Suarez says, but the view of my own feet in sandals, alone in the laundry room.

2: The birds, the concrete, all of us are waiting for rain. I feel young and inexperienced and mostly ashamed for even giving pause to these feelings when there is a cow eating a trash, a man without shoes, and a toddler with an empty stomach. It is time for reflection and Luke is speaking of an encounter with a man he had previously ignored. Someone who had just wanted to share a mango, share a story. I will later see Luke make the same face in Los Palos, his face pinched as if in physical pain from the suffering he feels in others.

3: “Yo hago permacultura” across the large bouncing breasts of an abuela to the world. What a life force! What joy! My lips purse and curl, my brow furrows. I have the same smiling cry as my mother and grandmother. I packed my great-grandmother’s umbrella too, but when it rains in Cuba I don’t use it. I turn my face to the sky with arms open wide and say, “ahhh.”

4: Eight-year-old Karen reminds me that the only tense I know in Spanish is the present. With her I am wholly in the moment. I want to show her the same so I give her my camera. I want her to look at this street in a way she never has before, in 1/500th of a second. I ask her what she wants her first photo to be. She walks to over to a puddle and captures her reflection.

On the bus back to La Habana, my insides are both exploding out and bonding together. I am being crushed by the earth’s suffering and yet  transformed by the stupidly beautiful goodness of a little girl. This is deep ecology, I think. Being alone and with everything, at once, all the time.

5: We three cling to strange splinters of history. You bite your finger while mine traces a leaf on the tablecloth. I peel thighs from a chair, knees touch, I am listening in every cell of my body. The fan smokes my cigarette. The light is tranquila, tranquila. We three know what the world revolves around.

6: Ariel, Ariel, Ariel. He is an angel, I swear it. I retreat to my room and sit in front of the vanity. We are born new every day, I think, and so, my heart, tomorrow comes.

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