GLEN SORESTAD IN KUBA
Ter inligting aan nuwe lesers van Versindaba en om moontlik ‘n paar geheues te verfris: Glen Sorestad is ‘n Saskatoonse digter en een van die leidende figure van die prêrie-digkuns. Ek is al ‘n paar jaar met hom bevriend en van sy gedigte het al op hierdie webwerf verskyn. Na ‘n onlangse besoek aan Kuba het ek die volgende van hom ontvang:
Cuba is one of the many small islands in the Caribbean Sea lying between North and South America and as such, it is a popular tourist destination, especially for Canadians who have had an interesting historical attachment to Cuba since 1959 when Fidel Castro took over control of the island. Canada has been a supporter of the island nation, whose north shore lies only fifty miles or so south of the southern tip of Florida, a nation which has been almost peevishly blockaded by the U.S. since 1960. My wife and I have made three trips to Cuba and have come to be fascinated with the island and its people, so much so that I fear we have both fallen in love with the Cuban people. Despite the incredible hardships ordinary Cubans have faced for over 50 years as a people blockaded by the world’s most powerful nation, the Cubans have proved themselves a most remarkable people. One of the most highly educated nations in the world, Cuba and its people are also among the most talented artistically and nowhere is that more evident than in their completely remarkable musical scene. We immensely enjoy our time in Cuba with these friendly, hospitable and unusually gifted people. I hope my poems are a reflection of how highly we regard the Cuban people we’ve met and how privileged we feel to be welcomed into their midst.
Glen beplan om ten minste sommige van hierdie gedigte, heel moontlik in verwerkte vorm, in te sluit in ‘n bundel wat voorlopig die titel het van Dancing with Dinosaurs: Cuban Poems.
It All Began With 82
It’s all so utterly preposterous.
Really, just think about it.
Can anything be more brash,
more completely outrageous?
Imagine what Clint Eastwood
could do with a story like this!
Start with a small armed force —
a rag-tag army, aiming to overthrow
a firmly entrenched dictator
with an assault from the sea
in a single landing craft
(named Granma, for pity’s sake!),
an invading army of 82 men!
Look, I’m not making this up –
it’s a matter of public record.
Can you imagine an invasion
less likely to succeed? Then,
when the attacking force lacks
the element of total surprise
in the face of daunting odds,
and when the eighty-two are
summarily reduced to nineteen,
who flee to the rugged heights
of the Sierra Maestras, that fiasco
should have written finis
to such an ill-conceived scene.
Had Fidel and Raul and Che
been among the initial fallen,
the story would have ended
in the bloody streets of Santiago.
But the trio was of the nineteen
and they wrote a different ending –
one even Eastwood would
never get away with..
The Gracious Waiter
Osmani is a tall Cuban whose lineage appears rooted
in the Middle East. A most gentle, gracious soul,
he lacks the ebullience of his fellow waiters.
Quiet and efficient, Osmani glides about his job,
with neither fuss nor favour, serene, as if serving
a host of angels. How could anyone not like him?
Like most dining room servers he was here two years ago,
likely much longer. Such positions are sinecures
for Cubans. Easy to imagine the senior waiters having
spent their entire working lives here.
Osmani, the gracious waiter, offends no one.
Wrapped in his distinct aura of silent warmth,
he returns home each night better off than when
he began the day, thankful for this tired crumbling
resort hotel and its ongoing life as winter home
for hosts of geriatric Canadian sun-seekers.
How Day Unfolds on the Playas
Each morning after the sun lights the sands,
young men who work the tourist-only beach
begin their job of hauling out of night storage
the white plastic chairs, matching tables,
large green parasols to shade the mostly white
sun-bathers from omnipotent sun. They set
everything out on the manicured sand for tourists
to loll away their day according to their desires.
Before sundown, these same young workers will
begin the process of undoing, of deconstruction.
One by one, two by two, they stack and hoist
and tote all the paraphernalia away from the sand,
back into the security of the night storage shed.
This Sisyphusan task must and will be repeated,
day after day; it is the bloodstream that feeds
daily life on the groomed sand of the Playas.
Around 2:00 in the afternoon a half dozen or more taxis
pull up alongside our Cuban hotel and park. They are
ready for fares, of course, but this is the slow time
at this beachfront hotel, so the cabbies all clamber out,
exchange greetings, handshakes or high fives,
then sit together on the grass to talk. They become
vociferous, animated, and though I know little Spanish,
I imagine they are chewing on the very same bones
workers on a break would be gnawing in my country,
or any other – local politics, sports, families, and sex.
Occasionally a fare shows up and one of them returns
to the reality of work, but chances are another cab arrives
and a new driver is welcomed to the ongoing deliberations.
Afternoon wanes and one by one, each cab driver leaves,
but the next day some combination of them will reassemble
alongside the hotel and the seminar of Cuban taxi drivers
will reconvene to continue their search for enlightenment.
Here on Playas del Este, popular beaches east of Havana
on Cuba’s northern shore, from our window I look north
across the moving Gulf waters to where America,
in all its might and fervour, its zeal and self-proclaimed rightness,
is not even the faintest outline, an incomplete thought.
The most powerful nation on earth — invisible to the eye
as I gaze across this ceaseless sea, waves that crashed here
before all nations, large and small, that will in the end
outlast them all. The Gulf keeps things in perspective.
Here, its hue might even be a Cuban shade of blue.
I am just reporting to you what I see.
© Poems: Glen Sorestad. 2014
(deur Leon Retief)