Imagining Sancti Spíritus

By Alicita Rodríguez

The dancing bears of Sancti Spíritus show up at inopportune times. During mass at Parroquial Mayor, for instance, where their kicks cause the thurible to swing wildly on its chain. Amid this pendulum of plumes, we suffer the clouds of frankincense. So aromatic we feel as if we have eaten Mama’s soap. When we are in a hurry at the mercado, squeezing the mangoes and searching for ripe plantains, they captivate the shopkeeper with their tinkling anklets and ruffled skirts, making us late for dinner. On lazy afternoons while we nap in hammocks on the banks of the Yayabo, the ursine prancers wake us from dreams of revenge. They shuffle into the movie theater during matinees of The Crimson Kimono, contaminating our popcorn with the smell of musk. In the mornings, we sometimes find their fur on our pillows.


Alicita Rodríguez is a Cuban-American writer born and raised in Miami. Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have been published in Sentence, TriQuarterly, Palabra, and Sudden Fiction Latino, among others.