WRITING OFF ARGENTINA
This morning the peso is free-floating
above the unstable world of Borges.
He knew Buenos Aires was not a city
to die in. Geneva was that much closer
to the other world. When the system fails
the theory of the system becomes pure
and the housewives of Buenos Aires gather
outside Congress and bang their pots and pans,
and their husbands gather outside the courthouse
and jangle their car keys, proudly to ask
What have you done to our good life?
Brazilian joke: Why do Argentines run outdoors
when there’s lightning? Because they think God
is taking their photograph.
Borges asked, What man has never felt
that he has lost something infinite?
When the economy falls apart, you feel that loss,
plus your pesos deflate to illustrate.
Yesterday on the Avenida Borges, we lived
in this world, but what were we like?
We took our dollars to buy leather coats
at the shop of Esteban Umansky,
who gave each of us a hat and gloves.
The president himself attended
our reception, and the ex-president,
now under house arrest for the millions
in his Swiss account. So the Argentines
go to Switzerland to hoard and die,
and we go to Buenos Aires to shop and live.
When Borges went to Geneva to die
the Argentines thought it was some kind
of poetic conceit. They were too cocky to see
he had given up trying to express himself.
Something great had been lost, some treasure.
He had decided all men are benighted.
This morning of the wrecked and plundered
I am all-seeing but my soul is blind.
I feel very much like myself.
In pursuit of a deal in leather,
in pursuit of one’s money in the shuttered banks,
we are forgetting how to be decently unhappy.
Learn from the global lenders, writing off
their bad Argentine debts. Their dual wisdom:
First, understanding the loss. Then,
understanding there’s nothing to be done.
I understand and I love my odorous coat
and Esteban made me a jacket as well
at a price not to be believed.