6.02 / February 2011

Buenos Aires in Three Short Lessons

listen to this story

I.  El Beso.  Riobamba 416, Abasto.

Sebastián spoke in castellano but when my foot fumbled he repeated in English, “¡No, no!, you must step on the beat.”  I explained it wasn’t a language barrier but incoordination at the cellular level.  I hoped he wouldn’t notice cracked calluses slipping out my overzealous stilettos.  He placed his hand dangerously close to my breast, “Lead from the heart!”  Lost in choreography sea urchins slivered my feet; every misstep a hyperbole, a heartbeat.

II. Loca! Milonga.  Niceto Vega 5248, Palermo Soho.

Natalia grabbed the underside of my thigh without warning and thrust it against her chest, “Never be afraid of your body.”  Her skin butterscotch frosting so sweet my blood sugar spiked the roof of her mouth.  Her calves could cut bread; she prowled with an Abyssinians perfect shoulders.  Her voice bubbled up like a tar pit, syrupy and thick, “It’s only walking. You know how to walk don’t you?”  I tried to boleo but her stare could break bones.

III.  El Arranque. Bartolomé Mitre 1759, Congreso.

Flor lit a cigarette in the antique elevator as it ascended.  Her hair was an unnatural orange like a mescaline sunset or lovesick nectarine.  She claimed she could teach anyone to tango in an hour.

Slow                                     slow                                    slow                                    slow

quickquick                        slow                                    slow                                    ¡Camine camine,

adelante, atrás! My toes traced purposeful circles till the bandoneón ocean crash sent me shipwrecked to the floor.  I would’ve drown without the next song; baritone ghost so bold I felt a curious firefly rustle my hair and flicker towards those jealous stars.

* Curious fireflies and jealous stars are lyrics in the classic tango ballad “El día que me quieras” written by Alfredo Lepera and performed by Carlos Gardel, translated from the original Spanish luciernaga curiosa and estrellas celosas.

Deanna Larsen lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she does freelance document translation. She once hiked through a cave in Panama with thousands of bats. She can also identify human skeletal remains. She really isn't squeamish about anything except the dentist. Her work has also appeared in wtf pwm, Ramshackle Review and Xenith.
6.02 / February 2011