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nevada en buenos aires - 22-06-1918

(¡Que Noche! is the title of a tango written by Augustín Bardi in 1918 as he was watching it snow in Buenos Aires, where it never snows…)

She picks up the accordion
as another woman might
pick up a knife.

Awkwardly, cautiously,
she turns it in her hands
until she feels the current rise
within its reeds,
the electricity of pain,
the fury of lost hope,
the cacophony of fear.

She lets her fingers dance across the keys,
imagining the song she’d play
if only he were there to hear.

Her fingers settle in.
She opens up her arms
as if welcoming a child home.
The bellows swell
and one high, perfect note bleeds into the air.

She is leaning forward
as if waiting for her chest to find another’s,
her lover’s arms embracing her
in close position,
her lover’s hot breath on her skin.

The studio is empty but for her.

She begins to play.
No mournful cancion
or lonely vals,
but instead a rude milonga
that sings of passion once ignited,
fueled by enigmatic longing,
ablaze with love and rage encompassed
in a turn, a glance, a footstep,
and a sigh.

A memory glides past her.

Her fingers pause;
the notes begin to falter, then to fade.
She lays down the instrument of her destruction,
packs it away with all that it remembers
of another time.

She takes her coat,
shuts off the light, locks the door,
and steps out into the night,
the tango dancer
whose partner’s ghost steps lightly across the floor.

Like snow in Buenos Aires,
love is this rare occasion,
glimpsed in wonder,
gone with daylight,
leaving memories and ice behind.