By Mark Trechock
I ride the Buenos Aires colectivo,
behind a man my age, his brown
pants not quite a match for the coat,
a meticulous dark Windsor knot
slipped through a turned white collar,
in reverence, despite his poverty,
to the salesman’s code always to be
prepared either to dance or to close
a life insurance deal. He pokes
his cane here and there as if
the bus might have a trap door.
On the way downtown the mismatched
man disembarks to join what looks
like a conga line circling a full
city block, people waiting to pay
their utility bills in cash, whose value
sinks forever and ever. Amen.
Nothing is forgotten in Argentina.
Brick buildings along the bus route declare,
years after the war, “The Falklands
are ours.” Borges never finished
writing his pampas fables. Unrequited
romances of decades past live on
in the stalking steps of the tango.
So what is impossible now? The pope’s
sweet smile conveys the Argentine answer,
Sepa yo —“who knows?” The kingdom of God
is ours. But when and how? No answer,
only to wash the feet of prisoners —
terrorists, murderers, infidels, snitches —
some guilty, some framed, but none let off.
I’m on my way to watch the mothers
of the disappeared, clasping black
and white photos to their chests
like miniature targets, demanding to know
where the bodies of their children lie buried,
and which of the torturers’ kin now raise
the victim’s grandchildren as fascists.
The bus pulls up at the plaza where
they march Thursdays, wearing white scarves
and otherwise unmatched clothes, chatting
like backyard neighbors, sharing empanadas.
I join the journalists, gendarmes and tourists,
watching from outside an unmarked line,
studying the women walking in a circle,
the way one might stare, clinging to a guidebook,
at a Bruegel painting in a museum,
wondering what it all might symbolize.
Copyright Trechock 2016