Visitors To The Hammock
"Fidel was invited there, right? And you made him promise not to tell anybody. That's very funny. You ask a guy who routinely talks extemporaneously to a crowd for 12 hours straight without any specific agenda, who digresses without worrying about whether he can ever get back to his main theme, to keep a secret. Fidel loves gossip. Anyway, he told me all about it, but I thought it was a bunch of bull and that he was pulling my leg. He claimed it relaxed him and that nobody there bothered him or interrupted his relaxation or questioned him about anything."
Bardo remembers Fidel’s visits. How he dressed in yellow Bermuda shorts and grubby t-shirts, his Churchill cigar hanging from his hand and how he spent time with his family. How, to Bardo’s disappointment, his military fatigues were nowhere to be found and he looked, except for the beard, and acted like any of the other visitors. "Have you heard about it from anyone else?" From The Dream Antilles
And so, I wonder, dear reader, who may be lying in the hammock, completely content, thoroughly relaxed, listening to the sound of the reef and the birds , floating in the margin between awake and dreaming. Is it me? Is it Fidel? Is it you? Is it one of my characters? Or is it two?
"The rain bends the palm branches. It drips from every spiked leaf. The rain is heavy, but there is no wind. The air between the raindrops is saturated with mist. Small birds huddle close to the tree trunks and under eaves, ruffling their feathers and waiting. There are puddles on the walkways. The rain makes pocked patterns on the sea that shimmer and migrate like flocks of migrating birds. Ona and Rosa sit facing each other on a hammock, huddled over a battered wooden box, their legs crossed before them.
Rosa holds a faded, browned photograph of a strikingly beautiful, bare breasted woman standing on the beach, her arms on her hips, facing the camera. She is wearing a batik cloth about her hips and a radiant smile. "This," Ona says, "is the famous photograph of your great grandmother. Isn't she beautiful? I bet you don't remember her very clearly. But you used to sit on her lap, and she would tell you about the magical plants. And about how to use them. She didn't look like this then, did she?"
Rosa shakes her head. "She looks like you, mama," she says, holding the photograph up next to Ona's face. "She looks like you." She stares from face to photograph and photograph to face. She touches Ona's cheek. She smiles. She puts the photograph gently back in the box. From The Dream Antilles