The three of us sit at writing group, tossing out ideas to use as writing prompts. Linda: Finding your voice; Current feelings; Using geography as an excuse; I don’t go there anymore. Anne: The incidental orphan; Rising above; At the bedside; The stigmata of mental illness. Katie: The knock on the door; He’s winning this fight; Dreams of flying; Cuban donkey guy. Linda sets the timer for seven minutes. And we’re off!
Cuban Donkey Guy – by Anne
My cuban donkey guy came to me on the seventh day of the seventh month in 1987, a graduation present perhaps. He brays outside my bedroom window – Ee aw! Ee aw! Ee aw! I peek around the curtains. He looks so dapper in his bowtie and cutaway coat.
“Come to me, my virgin bride! Leap from the window and fly!” He raises his hooves. ”Leap, my love!” His hooves are beautifully manicured, filed to precise arcs. I’ll surely be impaled.
I squeeze my eyes tight shut and jump. On a gust of wind I rise, nightgown billowing around my waist. My Cuban donkey guy stretches his legs, higher and higher, till he glides beneath me. I settle astride his back and we take to the sky.
Ee aw! Ee aw! Ee aw!
Cuban Donkey Guy - by my writing partner, Katie
I love Sunday mornings, the promise of a leisurely day tipped off with the ultimate trinity: sweetened coffee, Star Tribune, and “Acoustic Sunrise”.
One recent blissful morning, I open the Travel section and am struck by something familiar. The image is clear in my mind: my husband in his wannabe guayabera and a straw hat he borrowed for the photo op, fat cigar between his fingers, gazing out toward the horizon that isn’t captured, mocking himself.
“Babe, the Cuban donkey guy is in the paper!”
I show my sons and explain that we’ve actually met that guy! That somewhere we have a photo of their dad sitting on that same mangy donkey, with the same gritty old man holding the animal in check with an unconvincing rope. (Okay, I can’t be sure that the donkey is the same, but the old man is absolutely the real deal.) I recall a hand-painted sign hanging around the donkey’s neck advertising the available services: “Foto – un dolar”, though this photo shows the sign resting over the weary beast’s forehead, in what I assume is an attempt to provide a bit of protection against the unforgiving Cuban sol.
My kids don’t believe me.
I start digging through our box of old photos, the box that no longer fills because our photos now live in a digital dreamland and the opening of which always evokes profound nostalgia: Mojitos, salsa dancing to live music in the streets of Trinidad, the thrill of succeeding in visiting the forbidden land that is Cuba.
I can’t find it.
My husband comes to evaluate. He chuckles, surely recalling that moment and the freedom that feels so fleeting now. He confirms for the kids that yes, in fact, he did sit on that same animal over ten years ago, and that somehow the donkey guy hasn’t aged at all.
Thanks to Katie for letting me post her piece!
The image for this post is Marc Chagall’s “Woman With Green Donkey”. I do not own this lovely work of art and I posted its likeness without permission. Sorry about that.