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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