The Caribbean Writer

The Papel de Ba

Virgil Su


Everyone I know who goes to Cuba
returns with their own toilet paper
nightmare story. One friend

said when she visited the National Library
in Havana she went to the bathroom
and saw the Dewey Decimal cards

piled on the stained white porcelain,
a scribbled note about wrinkling cards
first before using to make them soft.

Or another story about paperbacks
nailed behind the stall door; you tear
as you need and a warning about not flushing

too many pages for the toilets are old,
their flow tired. Magazines with glossy
pages, old newspapers that leave their ink

traces on fingertips and buttocks.
Somebody can moon you a few words
by Hemingway, de Sade, Dostoyevsky,

or Castro

Copyright © Virgil Su

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