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Memories Beyond the Sunset

by Carmen Ruggero

I remember the Buenos Aires sunrise,
and corner houses,
the smell of coffee and honeysuckle vines.
Children playing, singing La farolera,
purple jacaranda, red coral trees,
and feather strokes of yellow
spread across the blue.

I remember my school
with red tile roof, a bronze bell,
and its cheerful shiny sound.
I remember my first reader,
white uniforms, braided hair,
satchels with new leather scent,
red apples, and white chocolates,
a brand new notebook under my arm.

Young Carmen by the Rio Plata

I remember wading in the Silver River,
my dress pulled up around the waist,
bonnet protecting my face from the sun,
playing hide and seek, and you’re it!
Asado by the water’s edge,
washing my face in watermelon
as weeping willows swayed to the breeze;
sitting by the water,
watching Grandpa catch a fish.

I remember sleeping at Grandma’s
and scary shadows on the wall,
and windows with white lace curtains,
and a big round moon outside,
blue light sneaking through the shutters,
bouncing spots on the wooden floor,
and listening to ghostly stories
told by grownups in a room next door.

I remember the barrios,
and jasmine scented nights,
and the giant sycamore branches
that reached across and touched
in the middle and above the cobblestone road,
and couples kissing in the dark,
their faces swaddled by moonbeams
as a distant concertina played their song.

I remember our national anthem:

Oíd mortales el grito sagrado:
Libertad! Libertad! Libertad!

Listen ye mortals to this our sacred cry:
Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

FREEDOM! I remember bombs blasting away.
FREEDOM! I remember blood spilling on our sidewalks.
FREEDOM! I remember fear.
And my city, the one that never slept,
the one once full of life, sound, and lights,
recoiling into darkness, and silence,
and the scent of jasmine
turning into death’s pungent smell.

I remember hiding behind my window,
holding on to the images of cobblestone roads
and sycamores, and gardenias,
I braced my head against my knees
and struggled to hold on... hold on to
my fading picture of that Buenos Aires sunrise,
and the corner houses began to fall,
and the color, I remembered
turning grey, grey, deadly grey,
and the mental picture collapsed,
as another bomb dropped.

I remember goodbyes and tears,
hugs, and promises to write,
and forever love each other —
promises, memories, words
muddled by time and distance,
and the discovery of another sunrise,
in a distant land — never quite like
the one I left — never home.
That one joyous childhood sunrise,
gone forever,
blurred in my mind’s eye like an old picture
left abandoned beyond the sunset
of my Argentina’s orange sky.

Copyright © 2004 by Carmen Ruggero

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