Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
A Cuban woman kills herself. She leaps like a disoriented bird from her apartment at FOCSA, that dwarf skyscraper inherited from an equally dwarfed Capitalism. Alienating. The empty swimming pool gets some moistness once again after decades and decades of collective neglect.
A merchant from Nuevo Vedado adds some red hair dye to the tomato-less tomato purée that he will later sell at a State agro-market where soldiers’ wives will go with their children. The police arrest him on a Sunday. The merchant claims that there are no toxic substances, only toxic ways to employ them. He claims his innocence in regard to his dying of tomato-less tomato.
A beggar asks me for a peso. I give it to him. Every day I hand out dozens of pesos among the local destitute community.
Ipatria punches me with a closed fist. I do the same to her. I hug her. I spit blood and ask her to forgive me. I don’t really know exactly why, but I ask her to forgive me. Nothing of this should have been real.
Alive. I am alive. Like the off-key roosters in Lawton’s backyards.
To sing to him in the morning. What an image. How many octosyllables must have been rhymed in Cuba following such hoaxes? The morning announces itself with a trill. With the rooster’s song. Quiquriquí. Cock-doodle-doo. Arroz con país. Rice and country.
Everything rhymes. Everything fits inside décimas and seguidillas and slogans and headlines. Everything is ritual, rhetoric of the Revolution.
A million bees buzz in my ears. An army of scorpions in my temple. Crustaceans under my cheekbones and acid reptiles in my sternum. A zoo of tiny lies, so as not to name the truth.
I die. I am dying. Like pigs unsuccessfully challenging the neighborhood knives.
My telephone has an international outlet. 119, world. 34, Spain. I dial JAAD’s cell number.
It rings. I hang up. To hell with the Stepmotherland.
A morning smoke fills the corridor of my wooden house. Steam, dew. The beauty of these cyclical lines builds up pressure. Truth resounds in my veins. Daybreak, agony. Knock-knock, who was it?
Orlando lays down.
It’s nice to imagine him in vertigo from the male-female roofbeams, lying on the bedspread in shadows, a body so immaculate and horizontal.
A phosphorescent Orlando. The hair mat like seaweed. Medusa about to be reborn a corpse. Orlando, aphasic.
It is unimaginable to imagine him at this hourless hour, five-something in the Cuban dawn.
Orlando turns face-down. He curls up. A fetus with no consonants. Oao. And interjection with no vowels. Rlnd.
Reiterative until exhaustion. Unrecognizable.
His man buttocks, human, devouring the rest of his nudity. The remains of his muteness.
Orlando has no hands. His arms are buried under his rickety body, under his ideal-athlete biology, under his perfect skin full of irregularities. Patches, spots, crevices, pimples, scars, biopsies.
His back arches itself. His spine swells, his legs stretch until tendons burst from desire.
Orlando moans. He collapses. He makes a nest out of sperm and bed sheets. A bundle of scents accumulated under the coldness of the false winter coming in in strips through the louvers.
He lays exhausted.
It is natural to assume he is not asleep. That death is as deceitful as dreams. That Orlando has given out a slight, imperceptible whinny of pain and has magisterially stopped breathing.
Translated by T
February 6 2011