Cuban Hand Line Fisherman
Beneath the roil and roll of the turquoise surge the restless Gulf
lies before him, an infinite mystery the young man is trying his best
to fathom, as others before him have done. He seeks to unbolt
the buried treasure chest of marine knowledge. With each flick
of his right wrist and follow-through of hand and arm, he hurls
his line and baited hook out to the limits of his developing skill.
With each cast he is a pilgrim tossing his coin with religious fervour
into a fountain of miracle. The youth has learned the timeless art
of delving below the surface of things, an unseen world in which he
has become one with the fish, so he may hear the subtlest voice
in the tension of line as he draws it, slowly, ever so slowly, back to
him, intuiting movements he can interpret only through the thinnest
monofilament, conveying its messages to his sensory receptors over
the tip of his index finger only.
The name card left atop the TV
tells us our maid has this uncommon name –
uncommon at least for us,
coming from a country not rife
with Spanish names.
So for the first few days I roll
a variety of bumbling pronunciations
off my Anglo-thick tongue, imagining
the placement of the various accents.
Her name sets her firmly apart
from the myriad Marias
and repetitive Rosas as one
who certainly cannot be easily dismissed,
nor taken lightly, one with whom
to trifle would involve risk.
Guillerucina is a name one might
expect to find on a building nameplate,
someone of considerable consequence,
perhaps even a figure of power.
We tip her well.
This afternoon when we return
to our room Guillerucina has swirled
our fresh white towels into an unmistakable swan
afloat on the pond of our bed, and fallen
alongside – a scarlet hibiscus bloom.
The Bus Stops Here
We are waiting for the morning bus
into Havana, a cluster of us from the hotel,
when one of the women indicates a man
standing near the front of the group, clad
all in white, middle-aged, a curly black
haphazard thicket of mad scientist hair.
You know, he’s got to be the first to get on the bus,
or else. He’s caused all kinds of problems with
the staff and the rest of us, says the woman,
here with her husband from Toronto.
I have noted this person for several days,
an obvious loner, anti-social, demanding.
A walking frown, he could be
from an Andy Capp comic strip
So I ask her, Does anyone know his name?
Asshole? she suggests helpfully.
Would that name be all in caps? I enquire.
No! And she becomes quite adamant.
Lower case — very, very small.
When dusk arrives here it is no lingering suitor —
no gradual softening of light, no slow fade
to the deep, thick stillness of night.
The sun dives into the Gulf like a tossed stone;
the dark pursues, pell-mell, dragging a duvet
of night over land and sea.
Glen Sorestad is a Canadian poet who lives in Saskatoon. His poems have appeared in literary magazines all over North America and other countries; they have been translated and published as well in seven languages. His poems has appeared in over 60 anthologies and textbooks, as well as in his more than twenty books and chapbooks of poems published over the years.