Travels with My Father by Linda Parsons
I didn’t realize I was taking you to Cuba,
dead a year, packed in the dark of my bag
as you once stowed contraband cigars
across the Canadian border. Travel
your middle name, pleasure and business,
now my blood’s slipstream, unruly map
lit with waystations, points of interest,
quest for the bluest blues. You stalked me
to the Partagas factory in Havana, wild
with leaf and aroma—Montecristo, Punch,
Cohiba (Castro’s favorite), Romeo y Julieta.
We strode the crumbling city together,
battered by sea, salt, time.
You would’ve come if you could, before
your prisoning mind, before la revolución,
1959, whose icons paper city and countryside
as if Che’s guerrillas stormed ashore
just last week. You would’ve come before
your embattled neurons, a discombobulation
of brain and will, stowed in your dark
recesses, some days forgetting your
middle name. You would’ve carried home
a baker’s dozen or more, fragrant cedar
glued, labeled in the windowless workrooms,
stories of Guantanamo’s bluest blues,
your memory alive and questing.
Linda Parsons is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and reviews editor for Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. She coordinates WordStream, WDVX-FM’s weekly reading/performance series, with Stellasue Lee, and is copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. Widely published, her fifth poetry collection is Candescent (Iris Press, 2019).
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