The day Adrienne Rich died, the Patagonian sun burned high
over where I was, and girls with their shoulders bared pranced
around boys in black hoodies who, in between flip tricks
Kissed their open mouths, tongues extended like giraffes,
legs almost as scrawny. I thought a lot about the word
“mestiza” that day. I thought about late 19th century photographs
Of towering Tehuelche women and the pale-faced Argentine men
who finally conquered the unyielding south three hundred years
after Magellan’s men had made contact and hurriedly left.
The archetype, born. Woman sits on plaza steps or a windswept rock;
she redoes her ponytail or sharpens a spear point; she turns her cheek
and speaks to the woman next to her, and in secret she waits, even if it takes
Three hundred years. But then I wondered about a country where abortion
is illegal but whose president rules with a hand more insoluble than Churchill’s,
and Evita’s fame, though more than being, too, a woman.
I wondered if it was possible to love something as durable and permeable
as we so often are – and in the graffitied shadow of Spanish general’s statue,
back bent and head lowered in iron-cast tiredness, I extended myself,
Arms and lungs and all, in defense of those who,
in truth, didn’t need it.