main | Vacant room | Dawning | Butcher shop | Simplicity | Farewell | Dulcia Linquimus Arva | Last sun in Villa Ortúzar | Mythical founding of Buenos Aires | Deathwatch on the Southside | Buenos Aires Deaths | Chess | Quatrain | Cyclical Night | A thirteenth-century poet | Susana Soca | Camden, 1892 | A Northside knife | Milonga of Albornoz | New England, 1967 | The labyrinth | Invocation to Joyce | Tankas | Susana Bombal | Things | Menaced | You | Poem of quantity | The sentinel | To the German language | 1891 | Hengist asks for men, A.D. 449 | Browning poet resolves to be | Suicide | I am | Fifteen coins | Blind man | 1972 | Elegy | The exile (1977) | In memory of Angelica | My books | Talismans | The white deer | The profound rose | Mexico | Herman Melville | To Johannes Brahms | Baruch Spinoza | Alhambra | Music box | Adam is your ashes | On acquiring an encyclopedia | Nostalgia for the present | The accomplice | Shinto | The cipher | My last tiger | The cypress leaves | The weft

Mythical founding of Buenos Aires

Was this the sleepy muddy river
that led the prows to found a nation?
Up and down the little painted boats plied
amongst the clustered roots in the chestnut current.

Think about it, suppose the river
was blue-glazed like the sky's scion
with a little red star marking the spot
where Juan Díaz ate nothing but was eaten.

What's sure is a thousand men and thousands
traveled over the sea of five moons' width
inhabited by mermaids and sea monsters
and stones of magnetic force maddening the compass.

They built up tremulous ranches on the coast,
and slept a little. So they say on the Riachuelo,
but that's pure bunkum from the Boca.
It was one square city block where I've lived—in Palermo.

A square city block in the middle of nowhere
witnessed by sunups and rains and winds.
Like the block where I've lived:
Guatemala, Serrano, Paraguay, Gurruchaga.

A general store pink as the back of a card
shone and in the barroom talk of cards;
a pink general store become a blooming friend,
a streetcorner boss, hard and resented.

The first hurdy-gurdy cleared the horizon
looking frail with habanera and gringo.
A vacant lot decided for YRIGOYEN,
a piano demanded Sabarido's tangos.

A cigar store scented rosaceous
the desert. Evening deepened with yesterday,
everyone shared a past that was fiction.
One thing was missing: the other sidewalk.

It seems to me a fable that Buenos Aires was begun.
It is eternal like water and air I judge.