[identity profile] okapi1895.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] holmes_minor
Title: Yo soy un hombre sincero
Rating: G
Notes: magic mirror AU
Summary: 1895. Doctor John Watson looks in a mirror. José Martí, poet & ‘apostle of Cuban independence,’ looks back.

Author’s Note: for the June prompt: travel & for the GYWO May Mirror, Mirror Challenge (one person looks in a mirror; a different person looks back) my prompt was ‘Havana, Cuba.’ The verse are from José Martí’s Versos Sencillos, which was the last of his poetry to be published before his death in battle in May 1895. Anachronistically (i.e., the song wouldn’t be written for fifty more years), Watson is humming Guantanamera, which is based on pieces of Martí’s verse. Translation at the end.

The water that splashed back into the basin was cool, bracing, and impossibly—or so I thought—briny.

I righted myself and looked in the mirror.

And gasped.

The man who looked back was not Doctor John Watson, formerly of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers, currently of 221B Baker Street and most immediately, in dire need of a shave and a trim.

It was someone else.

A few years younger than myself, he was frail, but with a resolute expression. Only a few sparse hairs graced his round head, but upon his upper lip was the thickest, fullest, most magnificent moustache I’d ever seen.

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma.

I did not hear the words as much as feel them, vibrating within me. Around him a city rose up, but apart from the moustache, what caught my eye most was the colour blue.

In the distance, cerulean sky met azure sea with a streak of cobalt.

A sea. A city.

An island.


The word was a simple melody, one fit for humming whilst shaving, one as smooth and as thrilling as the curve of woman’s waist when she turns.

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma.
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma.

“A man of words, eh? So am I, these days. A legacy, in its own way.”

Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero,
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.

“I can hear it,” I said, “on the lips of schoolchildren and chanteuses alike for years to come. Mine won’t ever be sang, I’m afraid. But perhaps they’ll be read, by furtive candles or before cosy fires.”

No me pongan en lo oscuro
A morir como un traidor;

“Soldier’s words, but no, not quite. Revolution?”

The man nodded.

“Forgive me, but you don’t look exactly battle-ready. I was once on the other side, as it were, quite keen to serve Queen and country, etcetera. As an army surgeon, I’m no fighter, either. A bullet shattered my shoulder; the whole experience shattered the rest of me. Empires.” The last was a weary huff. “’Tis odd, though, to have the rest of your life coloured by such a blink of an eye.”

The man smiled, but had no more to say.

I set about shaving. He did, too.

We worked in silence, neither hobbled by the lack of his own reflection.

Water, lather, blade, water, lather, blade.

I hummed.

Maybe he did, too. Who could say with that moustache?

At last, I heard him.

No me pongan en lo oscuro
A morir como un traidor;
Yo soy bueno, y como bueno
Moriré de cara al Sol!

I shook my head slowly.

“Go on. Die with your face to the sun. Poets make the best martyrs. But it’ll be a shame, sir, for the world needs poets more than it needs soldiers, and it for damn sure needs a grand moustache such as yours.”

I am a sincere man
From where the palm tree grows
And before I die I wish
To pour forth these verses from my soul

I grow a white rose
In July just as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his frank hand.

Don’t let them put me in darkness
To die like a traitor
I am good, and so,
I shall die with my face to the sun!

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