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Vereda Tropical

ISSUE:  Winter 1998
“Tú la dejaste ir”

“Tropical path, you let her leave.”
It’s just the same. The season was rotten.
Even if you couldn’t tell in this
all the time summer place,
I could.

She marked the time of year
by fits of weeping. Then fits of laughter.
Then anger. Then melancholy.
Except the year ran its course each day,
sometimes in a single hour.

Were she a baroque concerto, I could guess
when summer was breaking out,
even here, even now, in this
all the time summer place.
But she’s swallowed most of the sounds she made.

Dita Sullivan’s photo assemblage consists
of four images surrounding a fifth,
this last one a street in Havana.
Above it a marble statue at the Cementerio Colón
of a forlorn damsel holding a wreath.

To the left a mulata chorus girl
in a golden rain of cheap sequins.

On her head an eruption of heroic plumes.
She is caught in mid step, about to turn
into a firebird or ash.

To the right a woman praying
to a virgin, Las Mercedes, Mercies.
There’s a virgin of those.
She hogs them; that’s how she got her name.
Not like Leonardo who came from Vinci.

Below, a woman waiting out the revolution.
On the wall a poster for La canción protesta,
complete with bleeding rose. The straw
in her rocking chair will go soon.
Her butt will learn to cling to a lip of wood.

So, Havana is a woman. Dita hints these
are her seasons, laid out in the form of a cross.
Yes, I’ll carry it. I know the path she took
and the price we paid. You say knowing is not love?
It is in this all the time summer place.


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