Lend Me Your Legs for an Instant!

You who are there
in a garden that was never yours before
come here to these bars
that cross my face and my eyes
from side to side.
Don’t hide behind warm lights.
Feel my pain too for it is yours
and my shadows
and the portion of terror and bayonets
that for years I have been consuming for you
to fulfill my exact duty
and yours.
Come here, or at least
lend me your legs for an instant!

— Armando Valladares

Arrested in 1960 at the age of 23, Amando Valladares spent 22 years in prison in Cuba. Although originally a supporter of Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution, Valladares was arrested and charged with terrorism after refusing to offer a token display public support Castro’s regime.

[Research notes: Karen DeYoung, “Released Poet Describes Life as a Political Prisoner Inside Cuba,” Washington Post (November 17, 1982); “Cuban Poet is Set Free After 20-Year Imprisonment,” New York Times (June 25, 1984)]