Hail Storm

by Virgil Suárez

The last time my mother visited Cuba
she found a car and driver to take her
to the province of Las Villas, seven
hours from Havana, and on the way
it started to rain, and the driver, a young
man kept telling her to relax, that this
was the way it always rained in Cuba
this time of year, and she kept telling
him she wasn’t a tourist, that she’d been
born here, and the driver drove on
in the wolf-mouth-dark of the road,
insects and sleet rain crossing the head
lights, and my mother couldn’t relax,
and when it started to hail, fists pounding
on the hood of the automobile, she
panicked, prayed to the point she spooked
the young driver into stopping by
the side of the road, if only until the hail
storm stopped, if only until her heart
settled and she began to recognize
that what was pounding the car wasn’t
ice balls, but her memories falling back,
her life welcoming her where she belongs.

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