The Cult of Che
Don't applaud The Motorcycle Diaries.
by Raúl Rivero
What are these gentlemen looking for
in my house?
What is this officer doing
reading the sheet of paper
on which I've written
the words "ambition," "lightness," and "brittle"?
What hint of conspiracy
speaks to him from the photo without a dedication
of my father in a guayabera (black tie)
in the fields of the National Capitol?
How does he interpret my certificates of divorce?
Where will his techniques of harassment lead him
when he reads the ten-line poems
and discovers the war wounds
of my great-grandfather?
are examining the texts and drawings of my daughters,
and are infiltrating themselves into my emotional networks
and want to know where little Andrea sleeps
and what does her asthma have to do
with my carpets.
They want the code of a message from Zucu
in the upper part
of a cryptic text (here a light triumphal smile
of the comrade):
"Castles with music box. I won't let the boy
hang out with the boogeyman. Jennie."
A specialist in aporia came,
a literary critic with the rank of interim corporal
who examined at the point of a gun
the hills of poetry books.
in my house
with a search order,
a clean operation,
a full victory
for the vanguard of the proletariat
who confiscated my Consul typewriter,
one hundred forty-two blank pages
and a sad and personal heap of papers
—the most perishable of the perishable
from this summer.
Paul Berman, a writer in residence at New York University, is the author of Power and the Idealists.
Photograph of Gael Garcia Bernal by Paula Prandini; of Rodrigo de la Serna and Gael Garcia Bernal by Eric Gautier. Photograph of Che Guevara banner on Slate's home page by Danilo Balderrama/Reuters.