(Written in April 2019)
It’s the tail end of a gorgeous summer day in Coyoacán. It’s August 20, 1940; the Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia Sedova are drinking mint tea in the garden of their villa in this rural borough of Mexico City. They’re sitting on a stone bench under the shade of many tall royal palmetto trees, facing the garden of tropical flowers and rare cacti which Trotsky has meticulously cultivated these past few years. Thoroughly-needled tubes of mammillaria glochidiata cacti are backed by a shrub of pink dahlias with thousands of small tongue-like petals. Clucking comes from their nearby enclosure of chickens and the resonant plucking of a guitarrón is heard in the distance.
The stress from years of exile has aged the pair. Both of their hairs have faded to gray and Trotsky has put on a few pounds. The quiet lifestyle of this Mexican villa suits them, however, and it shows in their relaxed apparel. He is wearing a sleek white button-down and gray trousers (having ditched the suit jacket in this climate) and Natalia is in only a thin striped blouse and a long black skirt.