Saturday, November 26, 2016

"Where Was Fidel When I Needed Him?"

The story Fidelito cracked The Castro Monolth for me. Here's a poem from Driven into the Shade.

Where Was Fidel When I Needed Him?
to ElĂ­an Gonzalez

Because your father looked nervous during his interview with the INS,
your granduncle’s attorneys don't believe you should go home,
they say your father doesn't really want you,
that Fidel is making him say such things.

When I was six, my father was across the ocean, too.
Divorced from my mother before I turned a year old,
in arrears for child support, hiding from the court,
he'd gone to Vietnam to research how the communists 
brainwashed people out of the comforts of exporting rubber.

When I turned 16, I met him. He took me 
to a Baja bar where I listened to his voice
as I tunneled beneath our wasteland of memory,
trying to resupply our love, but
the tunnel didn't lead that way.

Throughout the afternoon, he uncoiled his story
how my mother and grandparents hid me from him.
Later his story wound back on itself like a python,
how he drank in Saigon, drank at San Diego State,
drove around Berkeley with a Marine friend 
yelling "faggots" out the window at the longhairs. 
I could not hear myself in his voice.

He said we were alike because we played football, 
but despite the distance between us,
he'd never thrown one pass to me, nor
had I been close enough to hit him with a block
and feel him hit back.

How I wish Fidel had walked into the bar,
taken my father at gunpoint,
locked him in Cuba's darkest prison 
without rum and brainwashed him,
electrified the genitals I came from,
made him scream that he wanted me with him.
Where was Fidel as my grampy sang me too sleep, 
where was Fidel as my father bought Saigon Tea 
for the mothers of dust?

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