Poem: 'Buenos Aires In and Out'

This poem by El Cerrito writer, photographer and education consultant Evie Groch, recently won an honorable mention in the 93rd Annual Ina Coolbrith Circle Poetry Contest, whose roots go back to San Francisco poet Ina Coolbrith.

Editor's note: This poem by Patch contributor Evie Groch of El Cerrito received an honorable mention in the 93rd Annual Ina Coolbrith Circle Poetry Contest. The Ina Coolbrith Circle began in 1919 when San Francisco poet, teacher and librarian Ina Coolbrith began meeting with like-minded souls to, as she wrote, "perpetually keep the history and literature…of California alive."

                        Buenos Aires In and Out


Just outside the gates
of Recoleta Cemetery,
a city unto itself,
vendors, respectful of
their neighbor, quietly
display their soldiers, dolls,
wagons and ceramic vases
leaning against glass-blown panes.
Violet blues, vibrant greens,
blood-red streaks in banners,
yarns, patchwork quilts,
and mahogany crafts
speak louder than their words.

Hundreds funnel into this
winding path, make their
leisurely way on a Sunday afternoon.
Fizzy fruit-filled sodas in Porteño style
offered at each stop until I give in
and order a pink one,
pineapple and unknown berry,
and understand what
I’ve been missing.

I see an instrument new to me,
perhaps for my granddaughter.
Metal prongs on wooden base
play scales when fingers pluck.
Elephants, in wood no less,
with hues from dark
to light in every size.

What welcome bustle,
energy, noise, movement, sound,
all helping me to cope with
the stone cold silence of Recoleta.


bed of repose for few
whose gates keep out the living,
the poor, the classless, the políticos
out of favor and the rats.
Cats are courted, honored, spoiled,
they have a job to do.

One must be rich to lie inside
or noble and esteemed,
like Evita, or royalty; pobre
Juan didn’t make it in.
This city of dead has thoroughfares
and alleys and castle-like monuments.
Yet they stand vacant,
neatly tended
to keep memories alive.
Beggars without history
live on streets outside the gates.

Snake-like throngs pass
Evita’s tomb to pile on flowers,
wipe a tear.
A meter away
a rusted wrought-iron
grating holds a wilted,
once pink flower
in its lock.



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