Power of Cuba

A cellar collection of electric meters,
hook-ups to power with so many wires
in makeshift highjack, it’s hard to tell

what’s unraveled, what’s attached
among the crisscrossed and slung, power
tapped, leeched, jumped, and supporting

that white tiled floor the well-heeled
once flew over from Florida to gamble
and dance on. The door’s aqua is still

sea-gleam bright, while the wrought iron
staircase spirals up from its fallen-out bottom
as if down here is where power starts,

where the grid gets given out — or grabbed,
energy infusing the tenement-dense world.
Someone saw how things can work, how current

could be shared, wires sprouting so wildly
there’s no telling which belongs to whom.
Reviewers claim this is about decay,

but who are they to say that a people
living by jury-rig won’t keep going,
knowing one light dims, another kicks in.

Betsy Sholl’s latest book is Otherwise Unseeable. She teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and served as Maine Poet Laureate from 2006 to 2011.