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Havana, Yasmine arrived one early evening,

the stem of an orange dress,

a duffle bag, limp, with no possessions

 

the sea assaulted the city walls,

the air,

the birds assaulted the sea

 

she's not coastal,

more used to the interiors of northern cities,

not even their ancillary, tranquil green-black lakes

 

though nothing was ever tranquil about her,

being there out of her elemental America

unsettles her, untethers her

 

being alive, being human, its monotony

discomfited her anyway, the opaque nowness,

the awareness, at its primal core, of nothing

 

a temporary ache of safety,

leafed her back like unfurling fiddleheads,

she glimpsed below the obdurate seduction of Atlantic

 

and island shore,

when they landed, a contradiction,

a peppery drizzle, an afternoon's soft sun

 

the oiled air of Havana pushed its way onto the airplane,

leavened, domestic,

the Tupelov cabin like an oven darkening bread

ossuary VIII

Dionne Brand

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