A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Luz Maria was named before the military government began to ransack Argentina in 1976. If she had been born after 1976, her parents surely would have had to name her from a pre-approved list of female names, which surely would not have contained Luz, or literally, Light. Luz was born in 1940 in San Miguel de Tucuman, the capital of Tucuman province.

Her father was a sepia indian who still spoke Quechua (Incan aristocratic language)and put on shoes for the first time in his life at the age of 13. There were wild rumors about him, like that he wrestled with a puma, once, because it had lunged at him in the jungle during dusk without his permission. Or, that he took the service revolver of an off-duty colonel who had overexceeded the boundaries of propriety with Luz's father. He had not only disarmed the colonel but used his service revolver to beat the colonel in places where his commanding officers would not necessarily notice like his ribs, chest, and legs. This only added insult to injury for it was the colonel who had to walk his battered skeleton up to Luz's house and ask for his service revolver back.

Luz's father was Pedro, or Don Pedro to everyone, including keepers of the faith, laws, and decimals. He was a surveyor with the municipality, which meant that he traveled widely through the city. And since Tucuman was still considered one of the most rugged provinces in Argentina, it meant that he sometimes had to survey lands which were splintered and gnarled, almost impassible. Pedro stood well over six feet tall and resembled the jamb of a well constructed, brick barn. He slept under the stars and would actually take off his shoes to sleep as if the scorpions that inhabit Tucuman knew that he was not to be pestered. And, one last thing: Don Pedro was a card shark.

Years later when the rector of the school that her son Rafaelo attended called Luz and told her that her son and three more boys had been caught playing truco in the back of class, Luz feared that Don Pedro's card shark genes had somehow been conditioned into Rafaelo's genetic loam. She sat the boy down after having had to pick him up for the day and she told him about his grandfather, Don Pedro, and the many instances where his love for cards had made him seem not the excellent father that he generally was. One night, Luz had to fetch him from inside the neighborhood bar because there several men were brandishing stilletos and wanted their money back. Luz walked into the bar, walked up to her father, and tugged on his hand for him to come home. All this while two men who had lost a considerable amount of money were fishing in their boots. One of the men had even screamed at Don Pedro that next time it would take more than a schoolgirl in her pajamas to save him.

Rafaelo showed the same spirit on the inside, after the provincial police had transferred him to the cell where he would spend the next six years of his life. But it didn't count for anything on the inside because they managed to break everyone, eventually. Sometimes, Rafaelo thought that it might just have been better to break during the first two months because then the torture would just become another part of their day, and not the culmination of little terrors throughout the day which it presently was. His captors would start in the morning by kicking them in the ribs and chest; for lunch there was the rack, a metal grille electrified, of course, that they would use to titillate the nerve endings in the softest parts of their anatomy, namely the breathing orifices, like the gums, testicles, and ears. For dinner, they switched to purely psychological torture: the guards would gather and taunt the inmates using the personal names and places that the prisoners thought were safe from seizure,exposure.

1 comment:

foul ball said...

the narrator recalls a small town on the edge of a jungle, a family that doesn't diminish with deaths of its members, but merely cycles memory to an earlier time