Omen pawn


Trying to get out of Buenos Aires, I must first have the right to stay, which means going through windless bureaucracies, routinely misled and insulted.

First two young men behind a desk, smiling at me when they saw my old Argentinean passport, as if they wanted me to join their party. (There was a cardboard on their desk saying ‘Aqui “No” se dan turnos’ , Here we do “not” give out favors, the not in quotation marks. But I must be consistent, I like some corruption, what gets called transparency is when government corruption is invisible) They said I needed to try another office the next day, as it closes early. On the way home I saw on old pawn shop on San Juan boulevard. There was a poetry book by Hernandez with art nouveau illustrations, there was an old headbust of Theodor Herzl, the bearded ideologue of Zionism, with Hebrew inscriptions, and a leaden statuette of a goddess or Etruscan, Roman Aphrodite figurine. I asked the shopkeeper about the figurine, he was drinking terrere, the iced herb drink from a bull’s horn through a metal straw, a young man with dreadlocks. Only people from the North and Paraguay drink terrere. He had a non-Porteno accent, I somehow have acquired affectionate feelings upon hearing

non-Porteno Spanish, I am a provincial in the city that Martin Espada called La Cabeza de Goliath. He said it an old figurine–from the 40s, lead. Bits of crystal sparkled in it, I was afraid to buy it, fears of who the owner had been, I saw too much Indiana Jones, but decided such Germanic fears, of accursed objects,  do not suit me. I bought it and built a small altar by the window.

(Ehad Ha'am)

(Ehad Ha’am)

I was disappointed about Herzl in the shop window. Had it been a headbust of Ehad Chaam, the more unknown Zionist who Chomsky speaks of admiringly and who was for a stateless cultural center in Palestine to energize the Jewish diaspora, I might have bought it. Or one of the Jewish Bund Socialist leaders–

The next day on the way back from the bureaucrat who sent me away from the offices at Avenida Desamparo I passed again the pawnshop on San Juan. There was still Herzl in the far right corner, in the left a very large old black and white photograph of Adolf Hitler posturing, in an old frame. I asked the rasta-haired vendor why he was selling this. He said it is an old picture, not from here, from Germany, but was owned by an Argentinian who had it on his wall in the 1930s.
“Solo estaba curioso, I was just curious is all” I said, like a coward.
“Its alright pa” he answered and offered me a sip of terrere, cool metal straw in my mouth, “good against that sick winter sun”

At night I dreamt the statue came to life, its lead turned soft, she sat and rode on me, I woke up at 4 am with the smell of lead, some crystals, the smell of a young woman’s cunt on my lips, and for some reason the desire to walk by the shop before dawn and throw the leaden idol through the portrait. But I will not do that, the idol is not for that. The idol is for when I leave this city, this barrel of suffering of Buenos Aires, when I go again to the mediterranean sea in front of Whom I was created. I will go to the bay by Athens now again colonized by the Germans. There, I will go to the sea near Kerameikos where young boys of 17 are initiated as men by trying to dive in search of an old Athenian or Ottoman sword they must pick up from the bottom with their hands to the beach–then they win their fiancees, old abolished paganism. If I drop my leaden statue anywhere it will be into such a wave, where another will fish her up to end a suffering that no mere wedding, no childbirth and not one or a hundred violent acts of revenge could undo without having first fished blindly for goddesses.
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Omen Pawn by Arturo Desimone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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