Driving Through Cuba

My ’56 Chevy, all chrome and cool and Turtle Wax –
it might’ve been salvaged here, fixed
again and again till it aged into one of these
smoking jalopies that cruise the half-empty streets
looking backward, chugging down roads
that fall off the island’s edge.

It might’ve been born here. Who knows,
when it was young and able to take the bumps
it might’ve joined the revolution,
climbed the Sierra Maestra bearing arms for the rebels;
might’ve rammed Bastista’s barricades,
served as Fidel’s parade car as he rode through Havana.

Ah, these scrap-heaps keep going, held together
by hairpins and slogans. They seem powered
by the fumes of history. And the past rides on in them,
slumped in the back like a road-weary hitchhiker.

Why, my Chevy might’ve ended
as one of these cabs that cruise avenidas
named after heroes – Marti, Bolivar, Allende.
I hail them from the crumbling sidewalks with nods,
half-smiles, slow waves.
Sherman Pearl
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