Thomas Merton in Cuba
by Margarita Engle

Counting rhythms while I try to sleep
in a cousin's house near Havana

roosters, children, radios, mothers
gossip, turkeys, soap operas, pigs
hammers, motors, laughter, bells
shouting, parrots, bicycle horns, drums
trash bins, dishes, pots and pans
questions, answers, thunder, rain

no wonder the Trappist monk
who'd lived for years with vows of silence
spoke so highly of his cacophonous visit

to the bright island where kindness
and solicitude surrounded him

island of voices
island of songs.

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