We cut. We fell. We tear down. It’s called suburban development. It’s called for show, so nothing obscures the new paint of CUCs (Cuban convertible pesos) on our facade. It is called cyclone prevention, some or another expert must have said on camera that any tree is a mortal peril. It is called telephony and electricity without ecological interference. It is called sanitation against disease. It is called sunlight. It is called liberty on an island where that word is scarce. It is called power. What the fuck…? I cut it down because it is on my land and it was I who rented the saw…!
Nonetheless, to fell is an act of charity. At the base and in one fell swoop. Havana of the 21st century does not deserve these republican trees with more than fifty years of life.
But, unfortunately, the majority do not dispose of the resources required to hire a good executioner, be it private or state. Then the people of Cuba show off their studies in Elementary Botany. And they grab and barely peel the bark of the tree (even a child could do it at his height, so that he learns early the art of clearing ground).
It is enough with a few centimeters of wound all around. It is enough, according to the tele-lessons of Universidad Para Todos (University for All). The rest is only rings of dead wood. It’s just under the bark that the tree sends up and down nutrients and wastes. This is its vital sap, its blood, suddenly spilt for no apparent motive. As it turns out, with a little skinning we condemn them to a very slow death, a very virtuous one, like an irreversible hunger strike, even if we later regret being so cruel.
And the tree dies. It dries up. Mute agony of weeks and months. Down to the last drop of chlorophyll. But they don’t fall. They die on their feet. And they continue to be a danger and a terrible interference, but at least they are dead, those tricky bastards who almost destroy the house, beyond their attracting lightning. First, to the scaffold; then we will see. Maybe a small brigade of Comunales comes to turn them into splinters for the benefit of the neighborhood artisans. For the moment, we can breathe easy. Fewer leaves, less bird shit, less humidity for asthmatics and rheumatics, fewer pests in their roots, ever so ready to destroy sidewalks that without this much effort the Revolution was already destroying. Less olive green (that would be the only bad thing, but it is compensated by more and more official graffiti on the walls of our city).
Sometimes I think that it is part of a deferred vengeance against the government. A way of protesting against despotism (you coerce me, I cut you). By the time this resistance triumphs, we will live in a country without trees. We will have to reforest. Not through postures but with people. Nothing comes to mind that can grow and cut off spaces. We only pretend to open spaces around us. Watch the other from afar. Take things off our heads. We are more lonely in the planet. We may even be right. Let us, for God’s sake, mold in the dark our empty biographies. Enough troubles hang overhead for us not to execute our meager quota of death, maybe as training for the day when the dismal idea of the Transition arrives.
Translated by: lapizcero
October 26 2011