I listened for Fidel at night. Over time, I counted on him. I translated his rambling monologues in my own dreamy way as he talked about his island with its green unpronounceable trees, the blooming pampas where butterflies from the north nested in the fall, lazy games of catch performed by children in starchy white uniforms chattering in a dialect that predates Columbus. You see, I was ready for someone to talk to me, to explain everything to me. How I looked like a movie star in those sunglasses I wore continually. How fires smell in the cane fields as the sugar carmelizes. I thought I understood romance for once and martyrdom, maybe even revolution. This ropey language, the syrup of its sound, an elixir, was on the air now all the time, crept into my bed each night.

What would my father say? It filled me up, crowding out the mortgaged furniture, the old sad music, the phone calls to the police, and all the names, especially the names I’ve now forgotten were ever attached to those other frequencies through which I drifted.

Michael Martone, “Fidel”

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