The Seine,
cultured lymph,
flows circumspect
and nods quietly,
removing its hat.
My country in my memory
and I in Paris on display
like a harmless bat.
Oh, for the plane
to take me
with four motors
on a single flight!

Blood shines on the breast
of a cloud that moves
slow in the overcast sky.
Dressed in mourning,
rent by four recent knives,         
it’s from the Mar Caribe
…a pirate, cannibal sea,
a tough sea of sightless eyes
and murdered sleep.
Oh, to return with that cloud,
her four knives,
and dress of mourning!



Reprinted from Man-Making Words: Selected Poems of Nicolás Guillén. Copyright © 1972 by Roberto Marquez and David Arthur McMurray. Published by the University of Massachusetts Press.