HOME VISIT WITH A WORKING WOMAN IN CUBA
She wishes she could beat the dust mites out of the rug
of this world. But she’s a woman, and her body is the inherited
fabric men wipe their boots on, woven and patched by generations
of furious women. Her hands are an ancestral tree, she names
each branch of herself on her fingers: wife, mother, grandmother,
student, professional worker, housewife, cook, maid, nurse.
She says poverty is not unusual, but a woman bears it like an anchor
in her uterus, cooking during blackouts, working all day in an office
while recipes to last the week bloom in their heads like math equations.
“Am I a good mother?” settles like dust, flies up under a nest of feathers,
settles again. I promise you, her fist attacks the air, the revolution worked!
She watched her husband sail off on a shoddy raft, her three children
at her side, growing steadily like vines along her hip, despite him.
He could leave, and good riddance, because now she had school,
the antidote to the poison of patriarchy injected in men since birth.
Women have always been a revolution within a revolution.
Still, the blockade cast its wide sticky net, and when she didn’t have
water to bathe, she daydreamed of pools in Miami, her pores drunk
on chlorine and her fingers wrinkling into a soft gauze.
She shakes her head, the gluttonous fantasy falls away, her steel eyes
polished with tears: she asks if we’re upset by her stories, if we realize
what she’s endured for five decades, if we understand
that solidarity must always stretch its reach towards women
until its socket pops. Pick up the broom and begin.