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To tell the truth I used to think the word meant some kind of fungus

like the mold that attacks bread, something that survives a hostile environment, no matter.

You say that the word cannot embrace those Cubans who left the island to seek

exile elsewhere, many in cold places, that the word only applies to the cruel punishment inflicted

on African slaves. Okay. But I have seen Cubans everywhere, scattered from Tierra del Fuego

to Iceland. I have seen the ones perishing in snow, these wounded fish and when I look into their eyes,

Nancy, like when I look into yours, I see the possibility of reconciliation, not the fixed gaze of hatred, but like mold

we have taken root where exile threw us, like these persistent and determined growths, we will prevail. We hang on.

The longing in our faces cannot end

until both shores unite, yours and mine, the sting of these subtle twists of definitions.

Virgil Suárez

Virgil Suárez, who was born in Cuba, is author of Spared Angola: Memories From a Cuban-American Childhood, a memoir and a collection of poems. He is also author of a collection of short stories, Welcome to the Oasis, and four novels, Latin Jazz, The Cutter, Havana Thursdays, and Going Under. He teaches Creative Writing at FSU.

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