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D. E. Green
Mnemosyne | Plaza Rosada: 15 August 1990


For my mother Elizabeth
Without Memory the Muses pale, sink
from Parnassus into Oblivion,
Improvisation loses its jazzy sync-
opation, and Art the forms that fashion
Truth and Beauty from pigment and mere clay.
The Great Mother daily works her wonders,
transforms a supper into ritual stay
against confusion or the rattling hearse.

But her magic resides in things recalled:
a tuna casserole, a Friday lunch,
maternal hands seeking ease in Mozart
sonatas, while children (all ears now) crunch
the rice crisped against the pyrex bowl—
simple monuments, mundane beaux-arts.

Plaza Rosada: 15 August 1990

In Buenos Aires suns do not so much set as fade. Here
at the top of the hill in the Plaza de San Martín, sitting out
the south's mild winter evening on a stone bench, getting through
old New Republics, reading about the life of Simone
de Beauvoir, I find the warm pale gray transmuted—suffused
light illumining entanglements of Beauvoir and Sartre—
to palpable Argentine rosado.

                                                  But here what they
call pink is not, like the peach of the Casa Rosada,
where Menem—the Peronist, euphemed Justicialist—confounds
distinctions between left and right. Which brings me back to Sartre
and Beauvoir: if that was not marriage, then what is?
Yet they refused the term.

                                                  Hidden, too,
in my bag (because I cannot bear its complication),
today's Buenos Aires Herald reports Saddam's latest
ultimata, Bush's saber rattling, Shamir's self-righteous
told-you-so, and Arab ruptures
mere reason cannot patch.

                                                 This hilltop
bench in the Plaza de San Martín affords no view of the gaudy
mausolea walled in Recoleta Cemetery
on the rise beyond. Yet surely, today as always, someone
has left a rose for Eva at the monument, where she
lies beside Papa Duarte and inspires
this neighborhood's spray-painting malcontent—
         Menem es traición
         Evita es resistencia

to demand Peronism fulfill its contradictions.

As the fading light dissolves the view north into tinted
grains of old newsphotos, into silent frames of lost
maternal mansions still disintegrating
on great-grandfather's fragile nitrate,
the fine distinctions of mere reason pale.

Poet's Biography:
  D. E. Green has published several poems in the most recent and earlier issues of Rag Mag, as well as in Sidewalks and Murphy Square. He teaches English at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and publishes articles on Shakespeare, theater, and film. He lives with his family in Northfield, MN, where he pursues the craft of the "occasional" poet—in the best sense, he hopes, of that term.

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