A guest on our recent People-to-People Cuba program wrote a dozen poems about his experience and graciously agreed to share them—all are accounts of Cuba seen through the eyes of birds. James Blackburn's poetry includes stars of Cuba's endemic bird species: the Cuban trogon, the limkin, the Cuban tody and the smooth-billed ani. This particularly charming poem is about the red-legged thrush spotted on the grounds of Ernest Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia, which means "lookout house," located in San Francisco de Paula, a small village outside Havana. Enjoy!
The Red Legged Thrush
by James Blackburn
At Hemingway’s home
On the outskirts of Havana
The dark bird with the red legs
Hops across the wet green lawn
Flipping leaves, looking for dinner
At the place of Hemingway.
Biodiversity abounds throughout
This great and lovely land
Inhabited by revolutionary thinkers
Who saw ways to unite the Americas
Through geopolitical expeditions
Such as that led by Nunez,
Paddling the length of the Amazon,
Moving up through the Grenadines,
By passing Puerto Rico and landing in Cuba,
Showing solidarity with the natives
Of Peru and Ecuador and Venezuela,
Finding every opportunity to make a meal
From nothing but ideas and grit and determination.
Some look at Cuba today,
And see Havana and its unrealized potential,
At what many consider wasted capital,
Where others see an alternative economy
That represents another form of biodiversity,
A geopolitical statement of difference.
The red legged thrush flies up into the green canopy
And watches my jet fly back to Miami,
Taking me back to my home
Where I will think and think and think
About what I have seen and what it means.
Photos courtesy of Garland Kerr