Clodomira’s Writing Block
She wanted to stab her writing hand, instead she focused on the portrait of Fidel Castro on the wall. She was long accustomed to falling into a meditative state by staring at Fidel’s philtrum. It was oddly naked, as if exposed in flagrante, by two quickly drawn curtains of wiry black hairs.
She had reworked the sentences for the eighth time. She was finding it increasingly arduous to make the connection between Epicurus, Batista’s foreign policy toward post-war Europe, and any of the 4,000 species of lice she was familiar with—especially the pubic louse. Her favorite of the Psocodea.
She was desirous of the Stoics ataraxia now. It was, after all, the key element in achieving apatheia—a state of calm and imperturbability—in the pursuit of virtue.
She couldn’t reconcile the Epicurean school that thought by avoiding politics, gad flys, and avoiding involvement with gods or an afterlife—and then involving oneself with trusted friends, and a life of simplicity one would achieve the calm and simplicity of ataraxia.
She wrote that Batista was a slovenly glutton and diverted US foreign aid to his coffers. She wrote about the pubic louse plague of 1975, and how it reached epidemic levels in Angola. The Cuban troops could barely sight their targets for the incessant scratching of their huevos.
“¡Coño, que metraca!” they were often heard crying, instantly giving up their positions to the South African mercenaries in the early days of the Angolan expedition. They were easily picked off. The State’s resources were forcibly diverted to deal with the pubic lice plague of 1975. It was either that or forgo the doctrines of Comrade Che Guevara’s early incursions into the Congo and Africa, writ large.
Clodomira was having such difficulty with all this unruly data that she found herself with a tight grip on her letter opener—her bayonet from the Bay of Pigs—and hovering it at the base of the knuckle of her ring finger.
She stopped herself when she pictured Fidel recoiling at the sight of her disfigured hand—she was to interview with him for the Directorate of the Citizens Brigade in Defense of the Revolution.
No, she decided. I’ll keep the finger at least through then.
“Trauma can work the other way. Something is horrible. And then everything is amplified.”
— Victoria Chang / Dear Memory