Sunbaked Shell


Graffiti in Havana, Cuba. Photo by Karim Amar.


Cuba, sunbaked shell.

We live inside a seed
splitting itself inside out,
stringing the pain
of fruit’s flesh with the pain
of sleeping fruit, neither
dreams nor landscapes
embrace its remains.

Cuba, a better world exists.

Separated from your body
you begin to understand it.
Separated from your body
there is no unhealthy tissue,
no asphyxiated atoms
straining at the bit,
auras, spikes, threads, 
black holes that have
made you who you are.

There is nothing to transfigure.
We belong to emptiness
even as we are part of everything
like blind waves silence summons
to the interior
of a false paradise.
Are we energy and vibration
or a tomb of images?

Cuba, sunbaked shell.

Sealed with the forest’s voice
rumbling within each seed,
closed like a slow root
that cannot feel its withering stalk. 


Translated by Margaret Randall

Originally published in World Literature Today 89, no. 5 (September 2015).


LALT Vol. 1 No. 2
Number 2

The second issue of Latin American Literature highlights the Caribbean and queer literature from across Latin America, featuring dossiers of revolutionary Chilean writer Pedro Lemebel and Mexican author Yuri Herrera as well as a special section on literary voices from Cuba.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Latin American Chronicle



Dossier: Pedro Lemebel

Dossier: Voices from Cuba

Featured Author: Yuri Herrera



Nota Bene