In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

INDIOS CON LEVITA /Ricardo Pau-Llosa When she returned home, The Divine Sarah Bernhardt caUed them "Indians in frock coats," the Cuban bourgeoisie that had partied her to boredom in hot and primitive Havana, and who knows anything there about theatre anyway? The rich had tried so hard to please, and just three words were enough to ravage the spectacle, the memories. I remember the looted house of the batistiano down the street in 1959. Outside, a queue of neighbors was quietly waiting to tour the plundered mansion, a museum of disaster. We gazed at the masterpieces of rage, the singed curtains, the stabbed paintings, books toppled from shelves that rose to the ceüing, shit smeared on the Persian rugs slashed because they were to big to roU and carry, chandeUers battered Uke piñatas. We got into the whispering Une and slowly we entered as if we had tickets, Uke sheep into a cyclop's mouth. "Cubans making an orderly Une, this is a revolution!" recited an old man with snide arms. Ropes had been put up to guide the crowd along a cleared pathway through the punitive rubble. Green milicianos were posted in each room, armed with rifles, sUence, and a sneer luce teachers. The crowd moved naturaUy in waves stopping here and there where the damage seemed particularly imaginative or cruel or inimitable, and they compared the methods Uke connoisseurs. "Inimitable" was the one word I took with me. A fat weU-coiffed lady in red ahead of us repeated it several times, and I asked my elders what it meant. "It can't happen again," my grandmother said, just Uke 1933 when Machado feU, not again, not again, over and over. One room in the mansion looked pristine 128 · The Missouri Review after the looting, or I thought it was a room because it was so large, but later she told me it was a closet. The elegant clothes were exorcised. A few hangers were tossed on the floor and strangely flattened Uke trampled birds but more Uke flowers in an old lady's book. "You'U see those gowns and frocks in the carnival this year," my grandmother said scornfuUy so that a miliciano could hear her. Carnival would soon be outlawed. This time the show needed no stage. Ricardo Pau-Llosa The Missouri Review · 229 PAREDÓN / Ricardo Pau-Llosa Staring down the mountainous waU, I imagine my ear against the suicidal waves as if the sea itself were a sheU against my cheek. The wall hoists the sound of the waves to the parapet. A tourist atop el Morro in San Juan, I squint across the harbor entrance to see a tiny ruined house, half a stone shelter once still lumbering among the surf-singed rocks. It is called Isla de Cabras, the Island of Goats. It was a leper colony during colonial times, and now, nesting among the blackened flanks and crannies, facing down the cobalt horizon and the colossus who partners the bay, it merely marks a torn page of island history. Who among the heavy with pain, the ragged in moment had heard of glory? How did they ponder the flagging galleons and the Dutch voUeys, the native fears and the pirates' rage? The goats were guarded by their sores. No one's plunder or slaves, not even to themselves treasure, they must have sat atop these rocks that shine Uke dropped jewels to watch the comedy of battles and trade, owning the world the only way it can be owned, in unlosable distance. They were free to stalk the Isla's narrow ceU much as inmates in Havana's Morro have always done. Across the bay from that castle is the capital, waUed and briUiant, unlike San Juan, a hub for flotas and armies, cathedrals and books, aU of which mattered Uttle. Cuba's lepers are the free. They are sent to the Morro 220 · The Missouri Review to rot or to be lined against its wet, green waUs and rehearse their executions before finaUy being shot. For centuries the scene has not changed. The famUies wait to visit what's left of the Uving inside the Morro...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 118-127
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.