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One-Legged Man in Shorts

David W. McFadden
From:   There'll Be Another. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1995.


He is standing in front of his home
surrounded by banana trees in fruit
in a little side street off the Calzade de Infanta
in Vedado just east of the university

He has a fed-up look on his face His eyes are very bitter
He is wearing shorts unusual in Havana
He is leaning on a crutch
and the stump
of his left leg
amputated
above the knee
is resting on another smaller crutch
at least thatís what it looks like from here

and I get the impression he lost his leg
in the Angolan war of liberation
and is tormented daily by the fact
his military pension is so miserable
he canít even afford the little food
allowed on his ration card

I refrain from asking him
if I can photograph him
refrain from taking a snap
with or without his permission
refrain from going up to him
and asking how he lost his leg
or if he still loves Fidel
or how he feels about the spirit of Che
or how he feels about the U.S.A.

In fact I just keep walking with both

legs and both eyes straight ahead
like any self-conscious tourist from the
English-speaking universe or for that matter
any public agent from any country anywhere
on a fact-finding mission in a broken-hearted
dolorous dispirited ill-fed city turning to dustó



David W. McFadden's works copyright © to the author.


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