Saturday, September 7, 2019

the last book I ever read (What You Have Heard Is True by Carolyn Forché, excerpt thirteen)

from What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché:

Early every morning Harry played a Nicaraguan revolutionary song on his cassette machine to rouse us to work, followed by serious Latin music or jazz. I told him my stories too, and he understood them. He had met Leonel in El Salvador on several occasions, he said, and thought well of him, but was also aware of the rumors regarding his possible affiliations, about which he “couldn’t care less,” except that he didn’t want me to be involved any longer in such dangerous activities, even though he himself, of course, would continue to work as a war photographer. He bought a coffeepot for me and I taught him to drink coffee, surprised that he hadn’t yet developed the habit. We shared a fondness for cigarettes. His refrigerator was filled with bricks of film, cigarettes, and Chuckles candy. I began to stock it with food. He figured out how to get the burners on the stove to work. Every night we went on the roof. Sometimes he cried out in his sleep (he said I did too), and several times called out to Olivier. I wrote during the day, attempting to produce a text that would please them, but one of the other editors thought I wrote too much about the campesinos and not enough about the war. Harry defended me. He was restless and couldn’t seem to sit still long, so he ran a lot of errands. By that time, I’d been traveling around the country for a while and was thin and jittery. Harry thought I should get off the road, but understood why that wasn’t possible. I saw his El Salvador through his photographs. He saw mine through my poems.

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