Banyan: Poems By: Virgil Suarez
Very Good to Like New Condition
Like the tree of its title, Virgil Suarez's dazzling new sequence of poems sends tendrils of memory and desire deep into the rich soil of a Havana childhood and the post-Revolution Cuban diaspora. Amid the uncertainty and loss of immigrant exile in Florida, where "a father's hand clutches / any dirt it can call its own," the single trunk of the banyan sends branches downward into the earth to become themselves sturdy trunks--fathers and sons, same fibers, same blood.
Incantatory, grounded in lush physical detail, BANYAN evokes the Cuba of history as well as a lost mythic landscape remembered by a son who has "learned this intricate art of leaving, / of saying good-bye to everything home, memories / like fire, a leaver's good-bye to all things irretrievable." Poised between loss and the restless search for identity and rootedness, these memories are sometimes searing but more often allow a son to generate "the music that has saved us all from ruin, / madness, bloodshed, from dying, from bitterness."
One of the first of such poetry collections written in English by Cubans/Cuban Americans living in the United States, BANYAN is an efflorescing testament to the nature of immigration and the quest for a father and a sense of place.