Postcard from Havana
The women specialized in leaving behind
and walking forward empty handed.
education in braids,
hope between fingers,
courage behind ribs.
after the Inquisition from Spain,
when monsoons flooded Philippines,
during World War II from Germany,
after the trees were stolen from Haiti,
they settled on the breezy island fragrant with guava,
grassy with sugar cane they harvested to release
plantains and roasted pork for dinners,
sweetness into the world.
When the scent of profit awoke the politicians,
the women were forced to leave again,
abandoning husbands’ bones in battlefields.
They paddled to the nearest continent,
settled again, learned to harvest
potatoes for food, snow for water.
Some comforted themselves with sugar cubes
stowed in the bottom of pockets.
After so much bitterness, no sweetness could be left behind.