Jamilia lives in Santa Clara
With her mother, waits
where touristas take pictures
of the purple bouganvillea,
the church’s yellow bell-tower
for her father
who brings tourists up from Varadero
to visit the little towns,
an old sugar plantation,
the compulsory tiendas.
En route, he drops off matches,
a bar or two of soap when he can get it.
Today, he managed three baby soothers
mothers in Matanzas have been begging for.
Next week, it might be safety pins
or pens he passes through the window
as he threads the palm-thatched villages.
He takes Jamilia
for lunch with the visitors
to a bodiguita
where she can have jugo de naranja
with thee spoons of sugar
fish as well as rice,
Today, he will buy some small thing for her
because he so much wishes
she weren’t going to cry when he leaves her
and that this
were not her only decent meal all week.
This poem is from Shifting (Ekstasis Editions, 2008), Anne Swannell‘s
third book of poetry. When she isn’t writing, she paints and makes mosaics
in Victoria, BC.