Cuba, Boasted Rival of Swiss Chocolate


It is good to own a good many things, at least soap.

To own the ice cream in your hand. To wash

your hands if there is money for it. To split

apart a cone in your hands if you hold

it too tight with feeling, and the wafer soaks

and you bite into it and there is ice

cream and what wafer is made up of.

Your teeth feel it all. You say to me

that it is time, you want to see the streets

your grandfathers now dead grew up in,

or la embajada maybe, the cemetery, and also

Coppelia, the heladería built after they were born,

fled (but before they died), to see the

ice cream there and to taste it— yes in the sixties

it was desired to have more ice cream flavors

than the United States, because that is important,

and important to try out: ice cream, milk,

sugar, whatever few flavors available, maybe

sugar cane, you who have never cut it

but you know others in Miami who had.

You drank sugar cane juice at supermarkets

growing up and taught yourself to like it.

Those cannons you desire to hear announcing

themselves in the Havana morning, not for

Cubans now, it’s for visitors like you who go visit,

and for those ghosts of grandfathers now dead,

but I don’t know if when they die they cross

the ocean or if they only tolerate

the feel of democracy and peninsulas.

If you want the exile to wither,

then it is good your grandparents do not own you,

the young can never be the same as the old in any case—

the ones who would forbid you,

you who have never seen the mystery,

or tasted anything at all, and all

for the grandfathers now dead whose ghosts

may be political, and you say you want

to taste the flavor of ice cream.

Are ghosts, or humans, more politically minded?

What do you care for when you die?

What are the flavors telling you?

Victoria María Castells is a graduate of McNeese State’s MFA program, and has a B.A. in English from Duke University. Her work is forthcoming in Stonecoast Review and Notre Dame Review. She lives in Miami, Florida.