When I reached the Church could not film because the only think I saw all around me were backs. I ventured to raise my arm as high as I could to film blindly, then I felt a hand grab my wrist and an unknown voice said to my neck:
- I will hold you up so you can film her when she leaves.
I could not even see the face of the girl who helped me, there were thousands of people and even though the traffic hadn’t been diverted for the procession, the cautious drivers made a line in Reina Street, waiting for those walking and cheering for the Virgin to finish their march.
I heard, “Viva the Virgin of all Cubans,” and “Freedom.” I didn’t see them but people said the Women in White were a few feet from us… there were so many people I couldn’t tell what was ten feet in front of me. When I walked behind the Virgin I was thinking of all those who for years dreamed of walking with her but were prohibited from doing so, and all those who could not do it today because they aren’t free to think differently.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.