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Dreamland Cuba

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


I am pure and simple. I was born with an
I for Interloper deep in my heart
and my complexities and incompatibilities
are resolved in the consommé of my dreams.

In the National Aquarium west of Havana
three black girls with purple lips
pronounce the Spanish names of the fish
and ask me to pronounce the English names.

We step out to the beach and look across
the unearthly bright sea and shudder to think
Key West is so close it makes the nose twitch.

The fishermen are bringing in a large catch
of small sharks and medium-size dogfish.
The sharks are leaping in the air.
They look strong, fierce, predatory.
They are not pleased to have been forcibly
removed from the smorgasbord of the sea.

The dogfish shiver in the warm air.
Their fur is drying in the sun.
They stand still. Their intelligent eyes
are ready for anything, even death.

They look exactly like dogs, I exclaim.
The fishermen don't appear to be bothered
by my obvious lack of evil intent.
, they say, but they are really fish.
It is true they look exactly like dogs.
That is why we call them dogfish.

The dogfish inch their way over to me.
Their tails hang down like furry commas,
and when I say to them "Sit up!" they seem
to remember something from long ago
and with the dignity of tremendous sadness
like well-trained elephants in the circus
they sit up and wiggle their little fins.

The three black girls become very solemn
and start mewing like newborn kittens.

The dogfish glance at them and yawn.



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


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