Stuff

Here for no better reason than it reflects the world as I’d like to see it

‘I Have’ by Nicolas Guillen (1902-89)

When I see and touch myself,
I, Juan with Nothing only yesterday,
and Juan with Everything today,
and today with everything,
I turn my eyes and look,
I see and touch myself,
and ask myself, how this could have been.

I have, let’s see,
I have the pleasure of going about my country,
owner of all there is in it,
looking closely at what
I did not or could not have before.
I can say cane,
I can say mountain,
I can say city,
say army,
now forever mine and yours, ours,
and the vast splendour of
the sunbeam, star, flower.

I have, let’s see,
I have the pleasure of going,
me, a farmer, a worker, a simple man,
I have the pleasure of going
(just an example)
to a bank and speak to the manager,
not in English,
not in ‘Sir’, but in companero as we say in Spanish.

I have, let’s see,
that being Black
no one can stop me at the door of a dance hall or bar.
Or even on the rug of a hotel
scream at me that there are no rooms,
a small room and not a colossal one,
a tiny room where I can rest.

I have, let’s see,
that there are no rural police
to sieze me and lock me in a precinct jail,
or tear me from my land and cast me
in the middle of the highway.

I have that having the land I have the sea,
no country clubs,
no high life,
no tennis and no yachts,
but, from beach to beach and wave on wave,
gigantic blue open democratic;
in short, the sea.

I have, let’s see,
that I have learned to read,
to count,
I have that I have learned to write,
and to think,
and to laugh.
I have . . . that now I have
a place to work
and earn
what I have to eat.
I have, let’s see,
I have what I had to have.

Written in 1964 in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution